Virtual Roller Coaster Ride Reveals Key Brain Differences in People With Migraine


Scientists have used an unconventional experiment to determine a number of the variations which may exist within the brains of people that undergo from migraine in contrast with those that do not: placing them on a digital curler coaster.


It seems that those that get migraine assaults are inclined to expertise extra movement illness and extra dizziness after they even think about themselves to be on a curler coaster. Their brains additionally present variations in neural exercise that appear to narrate to this.

Whereas migraine has lengthy been linked to movement illness and different vestibular signs – conflicts between what our senses are telling us and the way we’re feeling – the method on this digital curler coaster examine means detailed fMRI mind scans might be run whereas these sensations are being skilled.

“Individuals with migraine typically complain of dizziness, steadiness issues and misperception of their physique’s place in area throughout migraine,” says neurologist Arne Might, from the College of Hamburg in Germany.

“By simulating a digital curler coaster journey, our examine discovered that a few of these issues are usually not solely magnified in individuals who expertise migraine, however they’re additionally related to modifications in varied areas of the mind.

“By figuring out and pinpointing these modifications, our analysis might result in a greater understanding of migraine which might in flip result in the event of higher therapies.”


Might and his colleagues enlisted 20 individuals with a historical past of migraine (averaging 4 migraine assaults per thirty days) who had been sufferers at a headache clinic, and 20 individuals who hadn’t skilled any issues with migraine.

Whereas the mind scans had been being run, individuals had been proven first-person perspective movies of a curler coaster journey, along with accompanying audio to make the expertise extra immersive. They had been then quizzed about their emotions and sensations afterwards.

The experiences did not deliver on any migraine assaults, however 65 % of the migraine sufferers reported movement illness in contrast with 30 % of the management group. These emotions of nausea additionally lasted longer and had been extra intense for the migraine sufferers.

With the fMRI scans, the researchers noticed elevated exercise in 5 mind areas in individuals with a historical past of migraine – together with two components of the occipital gyrus, which is concerned in visible processing.

“One different space of the mind the place we discovered pronounced nerve cell exercise in individuals with migraine was inside the pontine nuclei, which helps regulate motion and different motor exercise,” says Might.


“This elevated exercise might relate to irregular transmission of visible, auditory and sensory info inside the mind.”

It is nonetheless early days for this analysis, however with the ability to examine mind exercise of migraine sufferers and non-migraine sufferers, whereas they’re experiencing signs intently linked with the event and onset of migraine assaults, ought to show helpful for scientists.

With about 15 % of the world’s inhabitants – over a billion individuals – thought to undergo from migraine, efforts to grasp extra about why these assaults occur and in the end to discover a treatment might probably enhance an enormous variety of lives.

The researchers have already begun evaluating modifications in mind exercise proven on this examine to the modifications in mind exercise that accompany migraine – and any hyperlinks might open up promising new choices for therapy.

“Future analysis ought to now have a look at bigger teams of individuals with migraine to see if our findings might be confirmed,” says Might.

The analysis has been revealed in Neurology.



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