New Study Confirms Brain Stem Activation During Migraine

Using PET scans, researchers at the Institute of Neurology in London have confirmed that brain stem activation occurs during migraine headaches. The specific location of activation is dorsal pontine, which is a mass of nerve fibers in the posterior of the brain stem. (I knew the $150 textbook book for the anatomy class that I dropped would come in handy some day.)

A 1995 study was the first to provide evidence of the brain stem’s involvement during migraines, but the current study is only the second in 10 years to confirm this. Brain imaging is difficult to perform because migraines are episodic. The imaging must be done within the first 24 hours of the migraine and before the migraineur takes any abortants.

Five women with migraine, two with migraine with aura, participated in the study.

The article was published in the August issue of the Archives of Neurology. A news article covering the findings is available at Medscape, which requires registration.

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