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PloS One


Research has established decreased sensory habituation as a defining feature in migraine, while decreased cognitive habituation has only been found with regard to cognitive assessment of the relative probability of the occurrence of a stimulus event. Our study extended the investigation of interictal habituation in migraine to include cognitive processing when viewing of a series of visually-complex images, similar to those we encounter on the internet everyday. We examined interictal neurocognitive function in migraine from a habituation perspective, using a novel paradigm designed to assess how the response to a series of images changes over time. Two groups of participants--migraineurs (N = 25) and non-migraine controls (N = 25)--were asked to view a set of 232 unfamiliar logos in the context of a target identification task as their brain electrical responses were recorded via event-related potentials (ERPs). The set of logos was viewed serially in each of 10 separate trial blocks, with data analysis focusing on how the ERP responses to the logos in frontal electrodes from 200-600 ms changed across time within each group. For the controls, we found that the amplitude of the late positive potential (LPP) ERP component elicited by the logos had no significant change across trial blocks. In contrast, in migraineurs we found that the LPP significantly increased in amplitude across trial blocks, an effect consistent with a lack of habituation to visual stimuli seen in previous research. Our findings provide empirical support abnormal cognitive processing of complex visual images across time in migraineurs that goes beyond the sensory-level habituation found in previous research.