Skin Temperature Self-Regulation and Non-Invasive Regional Cerebral Blood Flow


  • John W. Largen M.A.,

    1. From the Texas Research Institute of Mental Sciences, Houston, Texas;
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  • Roy J. Mathew M.D.,

  • Ken Dobbins M.A.,

  • John S. Meyer M.D.,

  • James L. Claghorn M.D.

  • This work was supported by Grant NS 09287 of the U.SPublic Health Service.



Theoretical notions concerning the mechanism of migraine alleviation via “hand-warming” techniques remain unclear and are somewhat hampered by a lack of knowledge as to what effect skin temperature self-regulation has on intracerebral blood flow. Twelve normal female subjects were trained either to increase or to decrease the skin temperature of their hands. Following extensive training, subjects were given one measure of non-invasive regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) during a relaxation run and another measure while self-regulating their skin temperature. The skin temperatures of the hand-warming and hand-cooling groups changed in significantly opposite directions. However the rCBF of either the left or right hemispheres showed no such concomitant differentiation. The present study contributes physiological confirmation of existing clinical indications that skin temperature manipulation per se may not be the major factor responsible for the therapeutic gains seen in migraine therapy.