Functional imaging and migraine: new connections?

Curr Opin Neurol. 2015 Jun;28(3):265-70. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000194.


Purpose of review: Over the last several years, a growing number of brain functional imaging studies have provided insights into mechanisms underlying migraine. This article reviews the recent migraine functional neuroimaging literature and provides recommendations for future studies that will help fill knowledge gaps.

Recent findings: PET and functional MRI studies have identified brain regions that might be responsible for mediating the onset of a migraine attack and those associated with migraine symptoms. Enhanced activation of brain regions that facilitate processing of sensory stimuli suggests a mechanism by which migraineurs are hypersensitive to visual, olfactory, and cutaneous stimuli. Resting state functional connectivity MRI studies have identified numerous brain regions and functional networks with atypical functional connectivity in migraineurs, suggesting that migraine is associated with aberrant brain functional organization.

Summary: Functional MRI and PET studies that have identified brain regions and brain networks that are atypical in migraine have helped to describe the neurofunctional basis for migraine symptoms. Future studies should compare functional imaging findings in migraine to other headache and pain disorders and should explore the utility of functional imaging data as biomarkers for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain* / blood supply
  • Brain* / pathology
  • Brain* / physiopathology
  • Functional Neuroimaging*
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / pathology*