Altered neurochemical coupling in the occipital cortex in migraine with visual aura

Cephalalgia. 2015 Oct;35(11):1025-30. doi: 10.1177/0333102414566860. Epub 2015 Jan 28.


Background: Visual aura is present in about one-third of migraine patients and triggering by bright or flickering lights is frequently reported.

Method: Using migraine with visual aura patients, we investigated the neurochemical profile of the visual cortex using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Specifically, glutamate/creatine and GABA/creatine ratios were quantified in the occipital cortex of female migraine patients.

Results: GABA levels in the occipital cortex of migraine patients were lower than that of controls. Glutamate levels in migraine patients, but not controls, correlated with the blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) signal in the primary visual cortex during visual stimulation.

Conclusion: Migraine with visual aura appears to disrupt the excitation-inhibition coupling in the occipital cortex.

Keywords: GABA; Migraine; glutamate; magnetic resonance spectroscopy; visual cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / analysis*
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Migraine with Aura / metabolism*
  • Migraine with Aura / physiopathology*
  • Occipital Lobe / chemistry
  • Occipital Lobe / metabolism*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analysis*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Glutamic Acid
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid