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Keywords:

  • Contingent negative variation;
  • cortical excitability;
  • healthy;
  • migraine;
  • triptan

The effect of the antimigraine drug rizatriptan on the amplitude and habituation of the contingent negative variation (CNV) in healthy women was examined in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The test persons were assigned either to a drug (n = 20) or a placebo group (n = 20). The CNV was recorded three times: before, directly after, and 24 h after drug or placebo intake. The CNV paradigm was presented in a standard, a cued and a choice version. Rizatriptan led to an increase of CNV amplitude that depended on the level of difficulty of the task. Whereas there was no drug effect in the standard version, an amplitude increase was obtained mainly in the choice task. The results are in line with the ceiling theory of migraine, which assumes a rise of CNV amplitude if the serotonin level is lowered.