Abnormal brain processing of cutaneous pain in patients with chronic migraine

Marina De Tommaso, Massimiliano Valeriani, Marco Guido, Giuseppe Libro, Luigi Maria Specchio, Pietro Tonali, Francomichele Puca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Syndromes with chronic daily headache include chronic migraine (CM). The reason for the transformation of migraine into chronic daily headache is still unknown. In this study, we aimed to evaluate heat pain thresholds and event-related potentials following CO2-laser thermal stimulation (LEPS) in hand and facial regions in patients with CM, to show changes in nociceptive brain responses related to dysfunction of pain elaboration at the cortical level. The results were compared with findings from normal control subjects and from subjects who suffer from migraine without aura. The effects of stimulus intensity, subjective pain perception and attention were monitored and compared with features of the LEPS. Twenty-five CM patients, 15 subjects suffering from migraine without aura and 15 normal control subjects were enrolled in the study. LEPS amplitude variation was reduced in CM patients with respect to the perceived stimulus intensity, in comparison with migraine without aura patients and control subjects. In both headache groups, the distraction from the painful laser stimulus induced by an arithmetic task failed to suppress the LEPS amplitude, in comparison with control subjects. These results suggest an abnormal cortical processing of nociceptive input in CM patients, which could lead to the chronic state of pain. In both headache groups, an inability to reduce pain elaboration during an alternative cognitive task emerged as an abnormal behaviour probably predisposing to migraine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


  • Chronic migraine
  • Laser-evoked potentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Psychology


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