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Sarah M Haigh, Alireza Chamanzar, Praveen Venkatesh, Pulkit Grover, Marlene Behrmann; Altered Visual Processing in Migraine Not Associated with Auditory Abnormalities. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):275. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.275.
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The diagnosis of migraine includes symptoms of photophobia (sensitivity to light) and phonophobia (sensitivity to sound). While there is much evidence for altered visual processing in migraine, there is little support for how auditory processing is affected. In the current study, we directly compared 18 individuals with migraine (12 with aura) and 18 age- and gender-matched headache-free controls on their event-related potentials to visual gratings alternating in contrast at 4Hz or 6Hz (SSVEPs) and auditory tones that were modulated using a carrier frequency at 4Hz or 6Hz (SSAEPs). The power evoked at the second harmonic of the 6Hz SSVEP was significantly greater in headache-free controls compared to individuals with migraine bilaterally over parietal-occipital areas (Cohen’s d=0.74). There was no significant group difference in responses to the 4Hz SSVEP (d=0.12). However, there were no significant group differences to the SSAEPs to either the 4Hz (d=0.04) or the 6Hz (d=0.15) tones. This verifies that visual processing is altered in migraine, but offers no support for abnormal auditory processing. It is possible that auditory processing abnormalities are more subtle in migraine or may be specific to a subset of individuals with migraine. Further investigation in to the individual differences in sensory sensitivities in migraine is warranted.
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