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Eur J Neurol. 2002;9:227-232.

In visual evoked potential studies, habituation during stimulus repetition with the same stimulus at a constant intensity has been found to be abnormal in migraineurs between attacks. The purpose of this study was to investigate habituation of somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) and the effects of migraine on them. Eighty-five subjects were included in the study: 30 healthy volunteers (HVs) and 55 migraineurs [30 with migraine without aura (MO), 25 with migraine with aura (MA)]. During continuous stimulation at 3 Hz, four blocks of 100 responses were sequentially averaged of Erb's point (N9), cervical (N13), and cortical (N20) median nerve SEPs. Mean amplitude changes in the second, third and fourth blocks are expressed as percentages of the first block. There was habituation to N13 and N20 in the second, third and fourth blocks in HVs. In the migraine groups, there was no habituation; on the contrary, potentiation was found. This potentiation was statistically significant only in the second blocks for N13 (MO P  =  0.007, MA P  =  0.01 versus HVs). However, in both migraineur groups, the rate of N20 potentiations was statistically significant versus that in HVs for all blocks (all P< 0.05). It is concluded that whilst physiological habituation occurs in HVs for cervical and cortical SEPs, in migraine patients there is an interictal deficit of habituation of this sensory modality.

Comment: This interesting study confirms the lack of habituation to repetitive stimuli reported in migraineurs between attacks and extends this finding to somatosensory evoked potentials using median nerve stimulation. One might speculate that migraineurs lack a protective mechanism which modulates both cervical and cortical sensory inputs. DSM