Physiopathology of Migraine: What Have We Learned from Functional Imaging?

  • Antonio Russo
  • Marcello Silvestro
  • Gioacchino Tedeschi
  • Alessandro TessitoreEmail author
Neuroimaging (N Pavese, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Neuroimaging


Purpose of Review

This review aims to provide an overview of the most recent and significant functional neuroimaging studies which have clarified the complex mechanisms underlying migraine pathophysiology.

Recent Findings

The recent data allow us to overcome the concept of a migraine generator suggesting that functional networks abnormalities may lead to changes in different brain area activities and consequent reduced migraine thresholds susceptibility, likely associated with higher migraine severity and burden.


Although functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have allowed recognition of several migraine mechanisms, its pathophysiology is not completely understood and is still a matter of research. Nevertheless, in recent years, functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have allowed us to implement our knowledge of migraine pathophysiology. The pivotal role of both the brainstem and the hippocampus in the first phase of a migraine attack, the involvement of limbic pathway in the constitution of a migrainous pain network, the disrupted functional connectivity in cognitive brain networks, as well as the abnormal function of the visual network in patients with migraine with aura are the main milestones in migraine imaging achieved through functional imaging advances. We believe that further studies based on combined functional and structural techniques and the investigation of the different phases of migraine cycle may represent an efficient methodological approach for comprehensively looking into the migrainous brain secrets.


Migraine Functional neuroimaging PET fMRI Resting-state network Trigeminal stimulation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Antonio Russo, Marcello Silvestro, Gioacchino Tedeschi, and Alessandro Tessitore declare no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio Russo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Marcello Silvestro
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gioacchino Tedeschi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alessandro Tessitore
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Headache Center, Department of Medical, Surgical, Neurological, Metabolic and Aging SciencesUniversity of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”NaplesItaly
  2. 2.MRI Research Center SUN-FISMUniversity of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”NaplesItaly

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