• Executive functions;
  • migraine characteristics;
  • migraine;
  • neuropsychology

Subjects with migraine are at increased risk of subcortical white matter lesions (WML). Reports of cognitive testing in adults with migraine have yielded inconsistent results. We performed a cross-sectional study to assess whether migraine without aura (MwA) is associated with impairment in executive functioning, a typical cognitive correlate of subcortical WML. Forty-five subjects with MwA and 90 controls, matched for age and education, underwent a cognitive battery of tests evaluating executive functions. The following migraine characteristics were collected: age at onset and length of migraine history, and frequency, duration and intensity of attacks. Subjects with MwA performed significantly lower than controls in tests evaluating complex, multifactorial executive functions. After multiple adjustments, the duration and intensity of migraine attacks significantly predicted cognitive disturbances. In the interictal phase of MwA there is evidence of mild executive dysfunction. The cumulative effects of repeated migraine attacks on prefronto-cerebellar loop probably account for our results.