Migraine and cognitive function: Baseline findings from the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health: ELSA-Brasil

Cephalalgia. 2018 Aug;38(9):1525-1534. doi: 10.1177/0333102417737784. Epub 2017 Oct 23.


Background The association between migraine and cognitive performance is unclear. We analyzed whether migraine is associated with cognitive performance among participants of the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health, ELSA-Brasil. Methods Cross-sectional analysis, including participants with complete information about migraine and aura at baseline. Headache status (no headaches, non-migraine headaches, migraine without aura and migraine with aura), based on the International Headache Society classification, was used as the dependent variable in the multilinear regression models, using the category "no headache" as reference. Cognitive performance was measured with the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease word list memory test (CERAD-WLMT), the semantic fluency test (SFT), and the Trail Making Test version B (TMTB). Z-scores for each cognitive test and a composite global score were created and analyzed as dependent variables. Multivariate models were adjusted for age, gender, education, race, coronary heart disease, heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, body mass index, smoking, alcohol use, physical activity, depression, and anxiety. In women, the models were further adjusted for hormone replacement therapy. Results We analyzed 4208 participants. Of these, 19% presented migraine without aura and 10.3% presented migraine with aura. All migraine headaches were associated with poor cognitive performance (linear coefficient β; 95% CI) at TMTB -0.083 (-0.160; -0.008) and poorer global z-score -0.077 (-0.152; -0.002). Also, migraine without aura was associated with poor cognitive performance at TMTB -0.084 (-0.160, -0.008 and global z-score -0.077 (-0.152; -0.002). Conclusion In participants of the ELSA-study, all migraine headaches and migraine without aura were significantly and independently associated with poorer cognitive performance.

Keywords: Headache; cognition; cognitive performance; executive function; migraine headaches.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brazil
  • Cognition*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / complications*
  • Neuropsychological Tests