Spontaneous brain activity abnormalities in migraine: A meta?analysis of functional neuroimaging

In this article, we performed the first quantitative voxel-wise meta-analysis of spontaneous brain activity abnormalities in patients with migraine, and found several brain regions associated with migraine, including the angular gyrus, visual cortex, cerebellum, caudate, thalamus, pons, and prefrontal cortex.


Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that migraine is accompanied by spontaneous brain activity alterations in specific regions. However, these findings are inconsistent, thus hindering our understanding of the potential neuropathology. Hence, we performed a quantitative whole-brain meta-analysis of relevant resting-state functional imaging studies to identify brain regions consistently involved in migraine. A systematic search of studies that investigated the differences in spontaneous brain activity patterns between migraineurs and healthy controls up to April 2022 was conducted. We then performed a whole-brain voxel-wise meta-analysis using the anisotropic effect size version of seed-based d mapping software. Complementary analyses including jackknife sensitivity analysis, heterogeneity test, publication bias test, subgroup analysis, and meta-regression analysis were conducted as well. In total, 24 studies that reported 31 datasets were finally eligible for our meta-analysis, including 748 patients and 690 controls. In contrast to healthy controls, migraineurs demonstrated consistent and robust decreased spontaneous brain activity in the angular gyrus, visual cortex, and cerebellum, while increased activity in the caudate, thalamus, pons, and prefrontal cortex. Results were robust and highly replicable in the following jackknife sensitivity analysis and subgroup analysis. Meta-regression analyses revealed that a higher visual analog scale score in the patient sample was associated with increased spontaneous brain activity in the left thalamus. These findings provided not only a comprehensive overview of spontaneous brain activity patterns impairments, but also useful insights into the pathophysiology of dysfunction in migraine.