Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation over the left temporal pole restores normal visual evoked potential habituation in interictal migraineurs

J Headache Pain. 2017 Dec;18(1):70. doi: 10.1186/s10194-017-0778-2. Epub 2017 Jul 19.


Background: Neuroimaging data has implicated the temporal pole (TP) in migraine pathophysiology; the density and functional activity of the TP were reported to fluctuate in accordance with the migraine cycle. Yet, the exact link between TP morpho-functional abnormalities and migraine is unknown. Here, we examined whether non-invasive anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) ameliorates abnormal interictal multimodal sensory processing in patients with migraine.

Methods: We examined the habituation of visual evoked potentials and median nerve somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEP) before and immediately after 20-min anodal tDCS (2 mA) or sham stimulation delivered over the left TP in interictal migraineurs.

Results: Prior to tDCS, interictal migraineurs did not exhibit habituation in response to repetitive visual or somatosensory stimulation. After anodal tDCS but not sham stimulation, migraineurs exhibited normal habituation responses to visual stimulation; however, tDCS had no effect on SSEP habituation in migraineurs.

Conclusion: Our study shows for the first time that enhancing excitability of the TP with anodal tDCS normalizes abnormal interictal visual information processing in migraineurs. This finding has implications for the role of the TP in migraine, and specifically highlights the ventral stream of the visual pathway as a pathophysiological neural substrate for abnormal visual processing in migraine.

Keywords: Neurostimulation; Somatosensory system; Synaptic plasticity; Ventral stream; Visual system.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / physiopathology
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation / methods*
  • Visual Cortex / physiopathology
  • Visual Pathways / physiopathology
  • Young Adult