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Keywords:

  • headache;
  • migraine;
  • pain;
  • cognition;
  • executive deficit

Objectives and Background.— The possible effects of migraine on executive abilities remain controversial; hence, we studied inter-ictal cognitive performance of individuals with migraine and non migraine headaches (NMH) compared with headache free controls.

Design and Method.— In a cross-sectional observational study, taking place in primary care, adults aged 50 or above were evaluated by a neurobehavioral battery including several executive measures. Present history of headache was sought, and migraine was diagnosed by the ID-Migraine questionnaire. The effect of headache type on cognitive measures was analyzed with multiple regression with adjustment by diagnosis, age, gender, education, and depressive symptoms.

Results.— Among 478 participants, 23.2% reported current headache, of whom 50 were NMH, and 61 were migraine headaches. No group differences were found in the majority of cognitive measures. Compared with controls, migraine subjects performed worse on a test of attention, while NMH participants presented more intrusions and worse discriminability in memory recognition plus a lower performance on semantic memory tests.

Conclusion.— The presence of headaches in late adulthood was related to a worse performance on few measures of executive functioning, suggesting that cognitive impact is not specific to migraine but might be associated to headache.