The anterior insula shows heightened interictal intrinsic connectivity in migraine without aura

Neurology. 2015 Mar 10;84(10):1043-50. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001330. Epub 2015 Feb 6.


Objective: We sought to explore whether patients with migraine show heightened interictal intrinsic connectivity within primary sensory networks, the salience network, and a network anchored by the dorsal pons, a region known to be active during migraine attacks.

Methods: Using task-free fMRI and a region-of-interest analysis, we compared intrinsic connectivity patterns in 15 migraineurs without aura to 15 age- and sex-matched healthy controls, focusing on networks anchored by the calcarine cortex, Heschl gyrus, right anterior insula, and dorsal pons, a region active during migraine attacks. We also examined the relationship between network connectivity, migraine frequency, and sensory sensitivity symptoms.

Results: Migraineurs showed increased connectivity between primary visual and auditory cortices and the right dorsal anterior insula, between the dorsal pons and the bilateral anterior insulae, and between the right and left ventral anterior insulae. Increased connectivity showed no clinical correlation with migraine frequency or sensory sensitivity.

Conclusions: Patients with migraine display interictal changes in the topology of intrinsic connections, with greater connectivity between primary sensory cortices, the pons, and the anterior insula, a region involved in representing and coordinating responses to emotional salience.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine without Aura / physiopathology*
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Pontine Tegmentum / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult