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Analysis and clinical correlates of 20 Hz photic driving on routine EEG in migraine

Abstract

Enhanced photic driving (PD) during high-frequency flicker stimulation, the so-called H response, is a classical feature of migraine patients between attacks, but is thought to be of poor clinical utility. Visual inspection of the EEG for its detection may not be reliable, however, data on its possible correlations with clinical features and migraine pathophysiology are scarce. We have compared visual inspection and EEG spectral analysis to detect abnormal PD in 280 consecutive migraine patients of our headache clinic (episodic migraine without aura, n = 171; chronic migraine, n = 48; migraine with aura, n = 61) and in a group of 24 non-migrainous neurological controls. Spectral frequency analyses were performed blindly by one of us (YF). On visual inspection, 50.4 % of migraineurs were thought to have increased 20 Hz PD. After spectral analysis, only 62.4 % of them had PD power superior to the mean + 95 % CI of the control group. Sensitivity of visually identified PD was 82.24 %, specificity 69.36 %. Increased PD on spectral analysis was more prevalent in episodic migraine than in chronic migraine, in patients with low attack frequency, in those with ictal autonomic symptoms in addition to nausea and in those with a strong family history of migraine. We confirm therefore that 20 Hz photic driving is of little diagnostic utility and its prevalence in migraine overestimated on visual inspection. Its presence on spectral analysis of the EEG, however, might be of pathophysiological interest, as it identifies subgroups of migraineurs of whom the common denominator could be lack of habituation of cortical responses during repetitive stimulation.

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Acknowledgments

Y. Fogang was supported by a Fellowship of the Headache Education Program of the International Headache Society.

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Fogang, Y., Gérard, P., De Pasqua, V. et al. Analysis and clinical correlates of 20 Hz photic driving on routine EEG in migraine. Acta Neurol Belg 115, 39–45 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13760-014-0309-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13760-014-0309-8

Keywords

  • Migraine with aura
  • Migraine without aura
  • Photic driving
  • EEG
  • Clinical correlates