"For the first time, we assessed cortical thickness and surface area abnormalities in patients with migraine, which are two components of cortical volume that provide different and complementary pieces of information," said Massimo Filippi, M.D., director of the Neuroimaging Research Unit at the University Ospedale San Raffaele and professor of neurology at the University Vita-Salute's San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan. "Indeed, cortical surface area increases dramatically during late fetal development as a consequence of cortical folding, while cortical thickness changes dynamically throughout the entire life span as a consequence of development and disease."
Dr. Filippi and colleagues used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to acquire T2-weighted and 3-D T1-weighted brain images from 63 migraine patients and 18 healthy controls. Using special software and statistical analysis, they estimated cortical thickness and surface area and correlated it with the patients' clinical and radiologic characteristics.
Compared to controls, migraine patients showed reduced cortical thickness and surface area in regions related to pain processing. There was only minimal anatomical overlap of cortical thickness and cortical surface area abnormalities, with cortical surface area abnormalities being more pronounced and distributed than cortical thickness abnormalities. The presence of aura and white matter hyperintensities—areas of high intensity on MRI that appear to be more common in people with migraine—was related to the regional distribution of cortical thickness and surface area abnormalities, but not to disease duration and attack frequency.
"The most important finding of our study was that cortical abnormalities that occur in patients with migraine are a result of the balance between an intrinsic predisposition, as suggested by cortical surface area modification, and disease-related processes, as indicated by cortical thickness abnormalities," Dr. Filippi said. "Accurate measurements of cortical abnormalities could help characterize migraine patients better and improve understanding of the pathophysiological processes underlying the condition."
Additional research is needed to fully understand the meaning of cortical abnormalities in the pain processing areas of migraine patients, according to Dr. Filippi.
"Whether the abnormalities are a consequence of the repetition of migraine attacks or represent an anatomical signature that predisposes to the development of the disease is still debated," he said. "In my opinion, they might contribute to make migraine patients more susceptible to pain and to an abnormal processing of painful conditions and stimuli."MRI shows brain abnormalities in migraine patients
Add this to the brain abnormalities in FM and I must have a fascinating brain. Actually after one of my tests... CAT scan or MRI can't recall my doctor told me I had a young looking brain because the surface of the brain ages over time and mine looked... young. Nice. Or is it just reduced cortical thickness due to massive amounts of migraines? Hmm. Who knows, but I doubt the brain likes being electrocuted that often... I imagine it would have some physiological change in the areas that process pain, just like it does in FM... which ironically makes us more wired for pain.