Interictal cortical excitability in migraine: A study using transcranial magnetic stimulation of motor and visual cortices

Judit Áfra, Addolorata Mascia, Pascale Gérard, Alain Maertens De Noordhout, Jean Schoenen

Research output: Article

194 Citations (Scopus)


We performed transcranial magnetic stimulations of the motor and visual cortices in healthy controls (n = 27) and in patients suffering from migraine without (n = 33) or with (n = 25) aura between attacks. By using a 13-cm circular coil placed over the vertex and recordings of the first dorsal interosseus muscle, we measured thresholds (at rest and during contraction), amplitudes of motor evoked potentials and cortical silent periods. Paired stimulations with short (1-20 msec) interstimulus intervals were performed to assess intracortical inhibition. The visual cortex was stimulated with the same coil placed over the occipital scalp (7 cm above the inion) and the prevalence and threshold of phosphene production was determined. In patients with migraine with aura, motor thresholds during isometric contraction were significantly higher, whereas the prevalence of stimulation-induced phosphene production was lower compared with healthy controls. These changes were not correlated with attack frequency or disease duration. No differences were found between subject groups in thresholds at rest, motor evoked potential amplitudes, cortical silent periods, or response curves after paired stimuli. These results are in favor of cortical hypoexcitability rather than hyperexcitability in patients with migraine with aura between attacks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-215
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - aug. 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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