Cognition and Cognitive Impairment in Migraine



Migraine is a complex neurological disorder that affects a significant percentage of the human species, from all geographic areas and cultures. Cognitive symptoms and dysfunctions are interim and disabling components of this disorder and may be related to the brain processes underlying the pathophysiology. Yet they are often undervalued by clinicians. In this review, we present the different types of cognitive dysfunctions associated with migraine and the mechanisms that are potentially causing them.


While reversible attack-related cognitive dysfunction seems extremely consistent and likely related to functional cortical and subcortical brain changes occurring during attacks, interictal cognitive dysfunction is less consistent and might become more relevant as attack frequency and disease complexity increase. Migraine traits do not seem a predisposition to long-term cognitive decline.


Cognitive dysfunction is a frequent manifestation of migraine attacks and may be specific to this disorder; it is important to understand if it could be useful in migraine diagnosis. Attack-related cognitive dysfunction is clinically relevant and contributes to disability, so it should be perceived as a therapeutic target. While there is no evidence to support that migraine increases the risk of long-term or persistent cognitive dysfunction, the fact that it occurs during the attacks and may persist in subjects with frequent or complicated attacks should prompt the understanding of the mechanisms related to its pathophysiology for it may also clarify the processes underlying migraine.

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Gil-Gouveia, R., Martins, I.P. Cognition and Cognitive Impairment in Migraine. Curr Pain Headache Rep 23, 84 (2019).

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  • Migraine
  • Cognitive complaints
  • Brain imaging
  • Cognitive decline
  • Migraine attacks
  • Attention
  • Executive functions