Is the migrainous brain normal outside of acute attacks? Lessons learned from psychophysical, neurochemical and functional neuroimaging studies

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Abstract

Migraine is a largely inherited disorder of the brain with recurrent head pain attacks. There is an increasing awareness, however, that the manifestation of migrainous biology is not restricted to such acute head pain attacks, but that migraine is rather a disorder with a continuous complex and broad sensory processing dysfunction in which normal sensory stimuli (somatosensory, visual, auditory and olfactory) are misinterpreted by the brain. This dysfunction is most prominent during attacks, but there are more and more evidences that the processing and perception of stimuli is abnormal also outside of attacks to a varying degree. In this topical review, we will summarize and discuss the current clinical, neurochemical and functional neuroimaging literature on this paradigm shift from a strictly episodic head pain disorder to migraine as a more general dysfunction of sensory processing.

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