HealthDay News — Migraine patients report significantly more dizziness and motion sickness than controls during a virtual roller coaster ride, according to a study published online July 21 in Neurology.

Gabriela Carvalho, Ph.D., from the University of Luebeck in Germany, and colleagues examined the behavioral and neuronal responses of 20 patients with migraine and 20 controls to a visual stimulation of self-motion through a virtual roller coaster ride during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Patients rated their perceived level of vestibular symptoms and motion sickness in scanning intervals and after the experiment.

The researchers found that during the virtual roller coaster ride, migraine patients reported more dizziness (65 versus 30 percent) and motion sickness (simulator sickness questionnaire score, 47.3 versus 24.3) and longer symptom duration (1.19 versus 0.27 minutes) and intensity (visual analog scale, 22.0 versus 9.9) compared with controls. Migraine patients had neuronal activity that was more pronounced in clusters within the superior and inferior occipital gyrus, pontine nuclei, and the cerebellar lobules V/VI; decreased activity was observed in the cerebellar lobule VIIb and in the middle frontal gyrus. There were correlations noted for these activations with migraine disability and motion sickness scores. In migraine patients, but not controls, further enhanced connectivity was seen between the pontine nuclei, cerebellar areas V/VI, and interior and superior occipital gyrus with numerous cortical areas.


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“By identifying and pinpointing these changes, our research could lead to a better understanding of migraine which could in turn lead to the development of better treatments,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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