Motion processing deficits in migraine are related to contrast sensitivity.

Research paper by Alex J AJ Shepherd, Heidi M HM Beaumont, Trevor J TJ Hine

Indexed on: 25 Apr '12Published on: 25 Apr '12Published in: Cephalalgia


There are conflicting reports concerning the ability of people with migraine to detect and discriminate visual motion. Previous studies used different displays and none adequately assessed other parameters that could affect performance, such as those that could indicate precortical dysfunction.Motion-direction detection, discrimination and relative motion thresholds were compared from participants with and without migraine. Potentially relevant visual covariates were included (contrast sensitivity; acuity; stereopsis; visual discomfort, stress, triggers; dyslexia).For each task, migraine participants were less accurate than a control group and had impaired contrast sensitivity, greater visual discomfort, visual stress and visual triggers. Only contrast sensitivity correlated with performance on each motion task; it also mediated performance.Impaired performance on certain motion tasks can be attributed to impaired contrast sensitivity early in the visual system rather than a deficit in cortical motion processing per se. There were, however, additional differences for global and relative motion thresholds embedded in noise, suggesting changes in extrastriate cortex in migraine. Tasks to study the effects of noise on performance at different levels of the visual system and across modalities are recommended. A battery of standard visual tests should be included in any future work on the visual system and migraine.