Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 203–212

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

  • Johannes Rojahn
  • Friedemann Gerhards

DOI: 10.1007/BF00848478

Cite this article as:
Rojahn, J. & Gerhards, F. J Behav Med (1986) 9: 203. doi:10.1007/BF00848478


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.

Key words

migraine headachestressphysiological responsespsychological responses

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Rojahn
    • 1
  • Friedemann Gerhards
    • 3
  1. 1.Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburgh
  2. 2.Western Psychiatric Institute and ClinicUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyTechnical University of BraunschweigBraunschweigFRG