Migraines do not cause brain damage

Brain damage theory debunked!

Researchers in France conducted a cognitive study on whether migraine sufferers were more likely than non-migraine sufferers to have brain damage later on in life. The researchers found that there was nothing to suggest that those suffering from migraines were more likely to suffer brain damage (1).

The study tested approximately 800 seniors and found that the scores between migraine sufferers and non-migraine sufferers were indistinguishable. Earlier research, conducted using magnetic resonance imaging (“MRI”) technology, found that migraine sufferers were more likely to develop tiny lesions to blood vessels in the brain. These lesions result from the deterioration in small cerebral arteries that supply blood to what is referred to as “white matter”. White matter is that part of the brain made of cells called ‘axons’ that connect one to the other so that nerves can communicate (2). White matter enables the brain to operate intact (2).

Detailed view of the brain and where the migraine begins

The new study was conducted to find out whether those lesions could mean lower cognitive abilities. Psychological tests were performed for each individual in the study and they included: visual retention tests, facial recognition tests, memory tests, as well as a word fluency tests. However, researchers found no link to suggest that these abrasions lead to lower cognitive abilities.

The study corroborates earlier research which showed that there was a strong association between migraines and deep white mater hyperintensity. White matter hyperintensity describes a condition where there has been some of more serious injury to the axons. The new study will also help researchers focus on non-migraine headaches and certain medical conditions related to older people.


1.        www.bmj.com, ” Headache, migraine, and structural brain lesions and function: population based Epidemiology of Vascular Ageing-MRI study”, http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7357.full

2.        www.ucop.edu, “White Matter Matters”, http://www.ucop.edu/sciencetoday/article/16621

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