Bimodal sensory integration in migraine: A study of the effect of visual stimulation on somatosensory evoked cortical responses

Cephalalgia. 2022 Jun;42(7):654-662. doi: 10.1177/03331024221075073. Epub 2022 Feb 15.


Background: Merging of sensory information is a crucial process for adapting the behaviour to the environment in all species. It is not known if this multisensory integration might be dysfunctioning interictally in migraine without aura, where sensory stimuli of various modalities are processed abnormally when delivered separately. To investigate this question, we compared the effects of a concomitant visual stimulation on conventional low-frequency somatosensory evoked potentials and embedded high-frequency oscillations between migraine patients and healthy volunteers.

Methods: We recorded somatosensory evoked potentials in 19 healthy volunteers and in 19 interictal migraine without aura patients before, during, and 5 min after (T2) simultaneous synchronous pattern-reversal visual stimulation. At each time point, we measured amplitude and habituation of the N20-P25 low-frequency-somatosensory evoked potentials component and maximal peak-to-peak amplitude of early and late bursts of high-frequency oscillations.

Results: In healthy volunteers, the bimodal stimulation significantly reduced low-frequency-somatosensory evoked potentials habituation and tended to reduce early high-frequency oscillations that reflect thalamocortical activity. By contrast, in migraine without aura patients, bimodal stimulation significantly increased low-frequency-somatosensory evoked potentials habituation and early high-frequency oscillations. At T2, all visual stimulation-induced changes of somatosensory processing had vanished.

Conclusion: These results suggest a malfunctioning multisensory integration process, which could be favoured by an abnormal excitability level of thalamo-cortical loops.

Keywords: Cross-sensory interaction; evoked potentials; habituation; multisensory integration.

MeSH terms

  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / physiology
  • Humans
  • Migraine without Aura*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Somatosensory Cortex