Thalamo-cortical network activity between migraine attacks: Insights from MRI-based microstructural and functional resting-state network correlation analysis

J Headache Pain. 2016 Dec;17(1):100. doi: 10.1186/s10194-016-0693-y. Epub 2016 Oct 24.


Background: Resting state magnetic resonance imaging allows studying functionally interconnected brain networks. Here we were aimed to verify functional connectivity between brain networks at rest and its relationship with thalamic microstructure in migraine without aura (MO) patients between attacks.

Methods: Eighteen patients with untreated MO underwent 3 T MRI scans and were compared to a group of 19 healthy volunteers (HV). We used MRI to collect resting state data among two selected resting state networks, identified using group independent component (IC) analysis. Fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) values of bilateral thalami were retrieved from a previous diffusion tensor imaging study on the same subjects and correlated with resting state ICs Z-scores.

Results: In comparison to HV, in MO we found significant reduced functional connectivity between the default mode network and the visuo-spatial system. Both HV and migraine patients selected ICs Z-scores correlated negatively with FA values of the thalamus bilaterally.

Conclusions: The present results are the first evidence supporting the hypothesis that an abnormal resting within networks connectivity associated with significant differences in baseline thalamic microstructure could contribute to interictal migraine pathophysiology.

Keywords: Fractional anisotropy; Magnetic resonance imaging; Migraine; Resting state; Thalamus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anisotropy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Female
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Migraine without Aura / diagnostic imaging
  • Migraine without Aura / physiopathology*
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Thalamus / diagnostic imaging
  • Thalamus / physiopathology*