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Researches gathered 29 people who regularly suffer from migraines, who in the study were referred to as migraineurs, and 31 non-migraineurs. All those in the study were asked to glimpse a striped grating pattern and rate it based on any associated visual phenomena or whether it was uncomfortable to view. Participants further underwent an electroencephalogram test, which researchers used to track and record participants' brain wave patterns when visual stimuli were presented.
Both tests resulted in researchers finding a greater response in the visual cortex among migraneurs when participants were presented with the gratings. However, non-migraineurs reported additional visual disturbances, which is a common aspect of migraines. Non-migraneurs were also taken into account with the study and their brains also displayed hyper-excitability.
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More research is needed on the matter and the next step is to monitor the 60-person group over time to see if they have a changed response to the visual stimuli as a migraine draws near. Then, researchers will try to map other possible physiological shifts.
“Our study provides evidence that there are likely specific anomalies present in the way the visual cortex of migraine sufferers processes information from the outside world,” said Dr. Ali Mazaheri of the University of Birminham’s School of Psychology and the Center for Human Brain Health. “However, we suspect that is only part of the picture, since the same patterns of activity can also be seen in non-migraineurs who are sensitive to certain visual stimuli.”