Impact of Antimigraine Compounds on Cognitive Processing: A Placebo-Controlled Crossover Study


Address all correspondence to Dr. Stefan Evers, Department of Neurology, University of Münster, Albert-Schweitzer-Str. 33, 48129 Münster, Germany.


Objective.—To evaluate potential cognitive impairment caused by acute antimigraine drugs.

Methods.—We conducted a placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study to detect the short-term impact of sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, and ergotamine tartrate on cognitive processing as measured by event-related potentials and a d2 test. Sixteen healthy subjects were enrolled in the study and given placebo, sumatriptan 100 mg, zolmitriptan 2.5 mg, and ergotamine tartrate 2 mg on different days and in random order. Before and 2 hours after drug administration, visually evoked event-related potentials and a d2 test were measured.

Results.—The N2 latency was significantly increased after ergotamine intake. No other significant differences could be observed in all other event-related potential parameters. In the d2 test, the GZ value was unchanged after ingestion of zolmitriptan and ergotamine, but improved significantly after taking placebo and sumatriptan. The number of relative errors and the concentration value did not change significantly. All results fell within the reference values for the d2 test in all examinations.

Conclusion.—Our data suggest that there may be a slight cognitive decline 2 hours after ingestion of ergotamine tartrate and, to an even lesser extent, zolmitriptan, but not after ingestion of sumatriptan or placebo. All changes recorded were very mild and unlikely to be clinically relevant.