Journal Article

Sustained visual cortex hyperexcitability in migraine with persistent visual aura

Wei-Ta Chen, Yung-Yang Lin, Jong-Ling Fuh, Matti S. Hämäläinen, Yu-Chieh Ko and Shuu-Jiun Wang

in Brain

Published on behalf of The Guarantors of Brain

Volume 134, issue 8, pages 2387-2395
Published in print August 2011 | ISSN: 0006-8950
Published online July 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2156 | DOI:
Sustained visual cortex hyperexcitability in migraine with persistent visual aura

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  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience


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Persistent aura without infarction, a rare migraine disorder, is defined by aura symptoms that persist for >1 week without radiological evidence of cerebral infarction. To unveil its pathophysiological mechanisms, this study used magnetoencephalography to characterize the visual cortex excitability in persistent aura by comparison with episodic and chronic migraine. We recruited six patients with persistent visual aura, 39 patients with episodic migraine [12 in ictal phase; 27 in interictal phase (with aura, n = 9; without aura, n = 18)], 18 patients with chronic migraine and 24 healthy controls. Five sequential blocks of 50 neuromagnetic prominent 100 ms responses were obtained, and the dynamic change in visual cortex excitability was evaluated by the percentage changes of individual mean prominent 100 ms amplitudes at blocks 2–5 compared with block 1, with a significant increase indicating potentiation. We found that in patients with persistent aura, there was significant potentiation during ictal periods (P = 0.009 and 0.006 at blocks 2 and 5, respectively), and the excitability change was inversely correlated with the duration of aura persistence (correlation coefficient −0.812, P = 0.050, block 2). The interictal recordings (n = 3) also showed potentiation. In terms of the other migraine spectrum disorders, persistent aura differed from episodic migraine in the presence of ictal potentiation. Persistent aura further differed from chronic migraine in the absence of interictal potentiation in chronic migraine. There was a higher percentage change of response amplitude at the end of stimulation (block 5) in persistent aura (43.3 ± 11.7) than in chronic migraine (−7.6 ± 5.5, P = 0.006) and ictal recordings of episodic migraine (−4.9 ± 9.6, P = 0.020). Normal control subjects had no significant response changes. This magnetoencephalographic study showed that the visual cortex in patients with persistent visual aura maintains a steady-state hyperexcitability without significant dynamic modulation. The excitability characteristic supports persistent visual aura as a nosological entity in migraine spectrum disorders and suggests a pathophysiological link to sustained excitatory effects possibly related to reverberating cortical spreading depression.

Keywords: migraine; migraine with aura; chronic migraine; persistent aura without infarction; magnetoencephalography

Journal Article.  5469 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neurology ; Neuroscience

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