The Cerebellum and Migraine

Maurice Vincent, MD, PhD; Nouchine Hadjikhani, MD


Headache. 2007;47(6):820-833. 

In This Article

Cerebellar Disorders in Common MWA and MWoA Forms of Migraine

In spite of the fact that balance changes and vertigo have been recognized in migraine, only a few studies have specifically assessed cerebellar function between or during attacks. In migraine, stabilometry studies have revealed ictal and interictal balance abnormalities in treatment-free patients.[36,37] Vestibulo-cerebellar function also seems compromised in migraineurs, with abnormal nystagmus in calorimetric testing and decrease in saccadic eye-movement accuracy.[38] In addition, subclinical cerebellar impairment expressed as a lack of fine coordination has been shown interictally in migraineurs.[39] Altogether, these findings indicate that migraine affects cerebellar function.[39]

It is not surprising that vestibular abnormalities may be detected in migraine patients, as about 2/3 of migraineurs are sensitive to motion and 1/4 may present with paroxysmal vertigo.[40,41] Although a positive family history and previous motion sickness in childhood do not contribute to the diagnosis of MWoA, vestibular abnormalities are associated with this type of headache.[42,43] Visual dysfunction may also impair coordination and probably impacts balance in migraine.[44] Spatiotemporal function and motion processing are reportedly abnormal in migraineurs interictally[45,46] and visual fields and contrast functions differ from controls.[47]


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