Progressive muscle relaxation reduces migraine frequency and normalizes amplitudes of contingent negative variation (CNV)

J Headache Pain. 2016:17:37. doi: 10.1186/s10194-016-0630-0. Epub 2016 Apr 18.


Background: Central information processing, visible in evoked potentials like the contingent negative variation (CNV) is altered in migraine patients who exhibit higher CNV amplitudes and a reduced habituation. Both characteristics were shown to be normalized under different prophylactic migraine treatment options whereas Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) has not yet been examined. We investigated the effect of PMR on clinical course and CNV in migraineurs in a quasi-randomized, controlled trial.

Methods: Thirty-five migraine patients and 46 healthy controls were examined. Sixteen migraineurs and 21 healthy participants conducted a 6-week PMR-training with CNV-measures before and after as well as three months after PMR-training completion. The remaining participants served as controls. The clinical course was analyzed with two-way analyses of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures. Pre-treatment CNV differences between migraine patients and healthy controls were examined with t-tests for independent measures. The course of the CNV-parameters was examined with three-way ANOVAs with repeated measures.

Results: After PMR-training, migraine patients showed a significant reduction of migraine frequency. Preliminary to the PMR-training, migraine patients exhibited higher amplitudes in the early component of the CNV (iCNV) and the overall CNV (oCNV) than healthy controls, but no differences regarding habituation. After completion of the PMR-training, migraineurs showed a normalization of the iCNV amplitude, but neither of the oCNV nor of the habituation coefficient.

Conclusions: The results confirm clinical efficacy of PMR for migraine prophylaxis. The pre-treatment measure confirms altered cortical information processing in migraine patients. Regarding the changes in the iCNV after PMR-training, central nervous mechanisms of the PMR-effect are supposed which may be mediated by the serotonin metabolism.

Keywords: Contingent negative variation; Cortical preactivation; Migraine; Migraine prophylaxis; Progressive muscle relaxation.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autogenic Training / methods*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Contingent Negative Variation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome