A review of recent literature on functional MRI and personal experience in two cases of definite vestibular migraine

Neurol Sci. 2016 Sep;37(9):1399-402. doi: 10.1007/s10072-016-2618-6. Epub 2016 May 25.


The pathophysiology of vestibular migraine (VM) is at present poorly understood. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a technique that measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow oxygenation, has been used to study neural pathways involved in VM pathophysiology. In this study, we summarize results of previous fMRI studies in VM patients, both during and between vertigo attacks. Moreover, we report our experience in two patients with definite VM, who underwent fMRI during a visual stimulation in a vertigo-free period. Compared with 15 matched healthy controls, fMRI demonstrated activation of brain areas related to integration of visual and vestibular cues (increased activation of the paracentral lobule and bilateral inferior parietal lobule and decreased activation of the left superior frontal gyrus, head of the caudate nucleus, left superior temporal gyrus, left parahippocampal gyrus, and right lingual gyrus). Our results partially confirm those of other authors, reporting increased activation of multimodal association brain areas (BA 40, BA 31/5) and decreased activation of occipital regions In addition, we also found a decreased activation of fronto-temporal areas, such as the parahippocampal region, functionally involved in space memory and navigation.

Keywords: Functional MRI; Migraine; Vertigo; Vestibular migraine.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Mice
  • Migraine Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / pathology*


  • Oxygen