Cathodal occipital tDCS is unable to modulate the sound induced flash illusion in migraine

Simona Maccora, Giuseppe Giglia, Nadia Bolognini, Giuseppe Cosentino, Massimo Gangitano, Giuseppe Salemi, Filippo Brighina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Migraine is a highly disabling disease characterized by recurrent pain. Despite an intensive effort, mechanisms of migraine pathophysiology still represent an unsolved issue. Evidence from both animal and human studies suggests that migraine is characterized by hyperresponsivity or hyperexcitability of sensory cortices, especially the visual cortex. This phenomenon, in turn, may affect multisensory processing. Indeed, migraineurs present with an abnormal, reduced, perception of the Sound-induced Flash Illusion (SiFI), a crossmodal illusion that relies on optimal integration of visual and auditory stimuli by the occipital visual cortex. Decreasing visual cortical excitability with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can increase the SiFI in healthy subjects. Moving away from these issues, we applied cathodal tDCS over the visual cortex of migraineurs, with and without aura, in order to decrease cortical excitability and thus physiologically restoring the perception of a reliable SiFI. Differently from our expectations, tDCS was unable to reliably modulate SiFI in migraine. The chronic, relatively excessive, visual cortex hyperexcitability, featuring the migraineur brain, may render tDCS ineffective for restoring multisensory processing in this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number247
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - Jul 3 2019


  • Migraine
  • Pain
  • Sound-induced Flash Illusion
  • TDCS
  • Visual cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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