According to researchers led by Yajuan Wang, patients with migraines often show abnormalities in cognition, emotion, and resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC), while patients with tension-type headache (TTH) do not. The collaborating researchers evaluated whether “rsFC alterations in brain regions related to cognition and emotion” could distinguish between cases of migraine and TTH and ultimately concluded that “the rsFC of amygdala and hippocampus with occipital lobe can be used to distinguish patients with migraine from patients with TTH.”

The study included 24 patients with migraines, 24 patients with TTH, and 24 healthy controls. Participants’ cognition, anxiety, and depression were assessed with Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS), Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS), and rsFC analyses. The authors explained that “due to their important roles in neuropsychological functions, the bilateral amygdala and hippocampus were chosen as seed regions for rsFC analyses.” Multilinear regression models and receiver operating curve (ROC) analyses were used to define associations between headache measures and rsFC features.

Reportedly, “migraineurs showed lower MoCA scores (p = 0.010) and higher SAS scores (p = 0.017)” than healthy controls. The investigators also wrote that “migraineurs also showed decreased rsFC in the bilateral calcarine/cuneus, lingual gyrus (seed: left amygdala), and bilateral calcarine/cuneus (seed: left hippocampus) in comparison to HCs and patients with TTH.” Overall, the investigators stated that those rsFC factors had a significant ability to distinguish migraine and TTH, with a sensitivity of 82.6%, a specificity of 81.8%, and an area under the curve of 0.868. Finally, rsFC alterations showed a “significant correlation with headache frequency in migraineurs” (p = 0.001; Pc = 0.020).

Ultimately, the authors concluded that “the rsFC features of amygdala and hippocampus with occipital lobe could significantly distinguish migraineurs from non-migraineurs (including HCs and patients with TTH), and the rsFC strength of the left amygdala with the left lingual gyrus was associated with headache frequency in migraineurs.”