Intrinsic brain network abnormalities in migraines without aura revealed in resting-state fMRI

PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52927. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052927. Epub 2012 Dec 28.


Background: Previous studies have defined low-frequency, spatially consistent intrinsic connectivity networks (ICN) in resting functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data which reflect functional interactions among distinct brain areas. We sought to explore whether and how repeated migraine attacks influence intrinsic brain connectivity, as well as how activity in these networks correlates with clinical indicators of migraine.

Methods/principal findings: Resting-state fMRI data in twenty-three patients with migraines without aura (MwoA) and 23 age- and gender-matched healthy controls (HC) were analyzed using independent component analysis (ICA), in combination with a "dual-regression" technique to identify the group differences of three important pain-related networks [default mode network (DMN), bilateral central executive network (CEN), salience network (SN)] between the MwoA patients and HC. Compared with the HC, MwoA patients showed aberrant intrinsic connectivity within the bilateral CEN and SN, and greater connectivity between both the DMN and right CEN (rCEN) and the insula cortex - a critical region involving in pain processing. Furthermore, greater connectivity between both the DMN and rCEN and the insula correlated with duration of migraine.

Conclusions: Our findings may provide new insights into the characterization of migraine as a condition affecting brain activity in intrinsic connectivity networks. Moreover, the abnormalities may be the consequence of a persistent central neural system dysfunction, reflecting cumulative brain insults due to frequent ongoing migraine attacks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine without Aura / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Rest / physiology
  • Young Adult

Grant support

This paper is supported by the Project for the National Key Basic Research and Development Program (973) under Grant Nos. 2011CB707702, 2012CB518501, the National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant Nos. 30930112, 30970774, 60901064, 30873462, 81000640, 81000641, 81071217, 81101036, 81101108, 31150110171, 30901900, the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, the Natural Science Foundation of Inner Mongolia under Grant No. 2012MS0908 and the Innovation Fund Project of Inner Mongolia University of Science and Technology Nos. 2010NC030, 2010NC037. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.