When migraine sufferers see the tell-tale squiggly lines, light flashes and blind spots of a migraine aura, they prepare for a migraine. When researchers see the brain image of an aura, they try to figure out what causes it and if there is a way to stop the start of the migraine. Now an international team of researchers has identified the electrical activity specific to the start of migraines and demonstrated a way to stop it in animal experiments.
“Seizures and migraines are two very different states of the brain,” said Steven J. Schiff, Brush Chair Professor of Engineering in the Departments of Neurosurgery, Engineering Science and Mechanics, and Physics, Penn State. “We found that the spreading depolarization, also called spreading depression, seen in migraines is a fundamental biophysical phenomenon and you can stop it with electrical current. Strangely, it is the opposite direction of electrical current used to turn off seizures.”