Different levels of cortical excitability reflect clinical fluctuations in migraine

Domenico Restuccia, Catello Vollono, Ivana Del Piero, Lucia Martucci, Sergio Zanini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In a previous study we demonstrated that high-frequency oscillations (HFOs) elicited by median nerve stimulation are significantly correlated to clinical fluctuations of migraine. We aimed at verifying whether clinical fluctuations and HFO changes are correlated to N20 somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) recovery cycle, which is likely to reflect the functional refractoriness of primary somatosensory cortex neurons. Methods: We analysed both HFOs and N20 SEP recovery cycle to paired stimulation in 21 migraine patients and 18 healthy volunteers. Results: Shortened recovery cycle correlated with low-amplitude HFOs as well as with clinical worsening. By contrast, prolonged recovery cycle correlated with enhanced HFOs, as well as with spontaneous clinical improvement. Conclusions: In our migraine patients the strict relationship between presynaptic HFO amplitude and N20 recovery function suggests that changes of both parameters might be caused by modifications of the thalamo-cortical drive. Our findings suggest that the thalamo-cortical drive during interictal stages could fluctuate from abnormally high to abnormally low levels, depending on mechanisms which reduce cortical excitability in spontaneously improving patients, and increase cortical excitability in spontaneously worsening ones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1035-1047
Number of pages13
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • excitability
  • high-frequency oscillations
  • Migraine pathogenesis
  • somatosensory evoked potentials
  • thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medicine(all)


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