, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 203-212

Subjective stress sensitivity and physiological responses to an aversive auditory stimulus in migraine and control subjects

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Subjective stress sensitivity and physiological parameters were compared between 24 migraine subjects and 24 matched headache-free controls during a multifrequency 85-dB (A) aversive auditory Stressor and during a recovery period. Measures consisted of frontalis EMG, temporal artery blood volume pulse, heart rate, a stress sensitivity questionnaire, stress reaction during the stress-expectation period, and ratings of noise aversiveness. Migraine subjects showed a higher level of general stress sensitivity, increased situational stress sensitivity, and higher ratings of noise aversiveness; this supports the general notion that migraine sufferers are psychologically more sensitive toward stress stimulation than nonheadache controls. Physiologically, the migraine subjects differed from the control group only with regard to the temporal blood volume pulse during stress stimulation; this finding is consistent with Wolff's weak-link theory.

Parts of the physiological data were presented at the 33rd convention of the German Psychological Association, Mainz, FRG, 1982; at the Symposium on Clinical-Psychological Research, Rauischholzhausen, FRG, 1982; and at the XIV European Conference on Psychosomatic Research, Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands, 1982.
The study was supported by Grant FL 117/2-1 from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) granted to Prof. Dr. Irmela Florin. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of Prof. Dr. Huffmann and Dr. Lemberg (Medizinisches Zentrum fur Nervenheilkunde, University of Marburg). We also thank U. Franzen and D. Heim for their statistical advice and computer programming.