Background: Accumulating data emphasizes the importance of olfaction in migraine pathophysiology. However, there are only a few studies evaluating how the migraine brain processes olfactory stimulation, and virtually no studies comparing patients with and without aura in this context.
Methods: This cross-sectional study recorded event-related potentials from 64 electrodes during a pure olfactory or pure trigeminal stimulus in females with episodic migraine with aura (n = 13) and without aura (n = 15), to characterize the central nervous processing of these intranasal stimuli. Patients were tested in interictal state only. Data were analyzed in the time domain and in the time-frequency domain. Source reconstruction analysis was also performed.
Results: Patients with aura had higher event-related potentials amplitudes for left-sided trigeminal and left-sided olfactory stimulations, and higher neural activity for right-sided trigeminal stimulation in brain areas related to trigeminal and visual processing. Following olfactory stimulations patients with aura displayed decreased neural activity in secondary olfactory structures compared to patients without aura. Oscillations in the low frequency bands (< 8 Hz) differed between patient groups.
Conclusions: Altogether this may reflect hypersensitivity to nociceptive stimuli in patients with aura relative to patients without aura. Patients with aura have a bigger deficit in engaging secondary olfactory-related structures, possibly leading to distorted attention and judgements towards odors. The cerebral overlap between trigeminal nociception and olfaction might explain these deficits.
Keywords: Aura; EEG; Migraine; Olfaction; Trigeminal.
© 2023. The Author(s).