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Altered motion perception in migraineurs: evidence for interictal cortical hyperexcitability


Dr Andrea Antal, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Georg-August University of Göttingen, Robert Koch Straße 40, 37075 Göttingen, Germany. Tel. + 49 551 39 8461, fax + 49 551 39 8126, e-mail


Much research on visual functions in migraine has pinpointed the existence of abnormal visual processing between attacks. However, it is not clear if this is due to cortical hyper- or hypoexcitability. We aimed to clarify this issue by comparing motion perception thresholds of subjects with migraine with (MA) or without aura (MoA) and control subjects. Two types of dot kinetograms were used: in the first experiment coherently moving dots were presented in an incoherent environment, while in the second only coherent motion was seen. Subjects with migraine displayed significantly impaired motion perception compared with controls when they had to detect the direction of the coherently moving dots in an incoherent environment, while they were slightly better in a direction discrimination task, where only coherent motion was presented. This pattern of results is comparable to those achieved by an external excitability enhancement of V5 induced in healthy human subjects in a former study of our group. According to this, a cortical excitability enhancement can result in an impaired focusing on a given signal against a noisy background, but improves perception of non-ambiguous stimuli. Thus we conclude that migraineurs display enhanced visual cortical excitability between attacks in V5.