Electrophysiological studies in migraine: A comprehensive review of their interest and limitations

A. Ambrosini, A. M. De Noordhout, P. S. Sándor, Jean Schoenen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electrophysiological methods may help to unravel some of the pathophysiological mechanisms of migraine. Lack of habituation is the principal and most reproducible interictal abnormality in sensory processing in migraineurs. It is found in evoked potential (EP) studies for every stimulation modality including nociceptive stimuli, and it is likely to be responsible for the increased intensity dependence of EP. We have hypothesized that deficient EP habituation in migraine could be due to a reduced preactivation level of sensory cortices because of hypofunctioning subcortico-cortical aminergic pathways. This is not in keeping with simple hyperexcitability of the cortex, which has been suggested by some, but not all, studies of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). A recent study of the effects of repetitive TMS on visual EP strongly supports the hypothesis that migraine is characterized b interictal cortical hypoexcitability. With regard to pain mechanisms in migraine, electrophysiological studies of trigeminal pathways using nociceptive blink and corneal reflexes have confirmed that sensitization of central trigeminal nociceptors occurs during migraine attacks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-31
Number of pages19
JournalCephalalgia, Supplement
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • Electromyography
  • Evoked potentials
  • Habituation
  • Migraine
  • Pathophysiologytranscranial magnetic stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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