Migraine is a complex and disabling neurological disorder, and the exact neurological mechanisms remain unclear. Thalamus is considered the hub of the central processing and integration of nociceptive information, as well as the modulation of these processes.
Forty-eight migraineurs without aura (MWoAs) during the interictal phase and 48 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (HCs) underwent resting-state fMRI scans. We utilized masked independent component analysis (mICA) and seed-based functional connectivity (FC) to investigate whether MWoA exhibited abnormal FC between subregions in the thalamus and the cortex regions.
MWoAs showed significantly weaker FC between the anterior dorsal nucleus (ADN) and left precuneus. Additionally, MWoAs exhibited significantly reduced FC between the ventral posterior nucleus (VPN) and left precuneus, right inferior parietal lobule, and right middle frontal gyrus; furthermore, the FC Z scores between VPN and right inferior parietal lobule were negatively correlated with pain intensity in MWoAs. The disease duration of patients was negatively correlated with the FC Z scores between the VPN and right inferior parietal lobule.
These altered thalamocortical connectivity patterns may contribute to multisensory integration abnormalities, deficits in pain attention, cognitive evaluation, and pain modulation. Pain sensitivity and disease duration are closely tied to abnormal FC between VPN and right inferior parietal lobule. Remarkably, recurrent headache attacks might contribute to this maladaptive functional plasticity closely related to pain intensity.

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