Imaging the Visual Network in the Migraine Spectrum

Front Neurol. 2019 Dec 13;10:1325. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2019.01325. eCollection 2019.

Abstract

The involvement of the visual network in migraine pathophysiology has been well-known for more than a century. Not only is the aura phenomenon linked to cortical alterations primarily localized in the visual cortex; but also migraine without aura has shown distinct dysfunction of visual processing in several studies in the past. Further, the study of photophobia, a hallmark migraine symptom, has allowed unraveling of distinct connections that link retinal pathways to the trigeminovascular system. Finally, visual snow, a recently recognized neurological disorder characterized by a continuous visual disturbance, is highly comorbid with migraine and possibly shares with it some common pathophysiological mechanisms. Here, we review the most relevant neuroimaging literature to date, considering studies that have either attempted to investigate the visual network or have indirectly shown visual processing dysfunctions in migraine. We do this by taking into account the broader spectrum of migrainous biology, thus analyzing migraine both with and without aura, focusing on light sensitivity as the most relevant visual symptom in migraine, and finally analyzing the visual snow syndrome. We also present possible hypotheses on the underlying pathophysiology of visual snow, for which very little is currently known.

Keywords: aura; migraine; migraine spectrum; neuroimaging; photophobia; visual network; visual snow.

Publication types

  • Review