Startle reactivity in children at risk for migraine.
ABSTRACT Numerous studies have shown a higher responsiveness and/or a lack of habituation to sensory stimuli of various modalities in migraine. This study investigated psychophysiological responses to aversive acoustic stimuli in children at risk for migraine.
We measured eyeblink responses to acoustic stimuli (40ms bursts of white noise at 102dB) during anticipation of unpleasant stimuli in 74 adolescents (40 females, age 17.6+/-2.9). A mixed effects linear model was applied to test group differences in startle reactivity during baseline, safe and threat conditions among adolescents by maternal and personal history of migraine.
The strongest association with migraine vulnerability emerged for baseline startle reactivity, which was significantly elevated in high risk youth with a history of maternal migraine. This group of offspring also had enhanced startle response during the threat condition and the threat-safe difference.
Our findings indicate that migraine is associated with a higher acoustic startle responsiveness that is present already in children at risk for developing the disorder. Significance: The significant effect of both maternal history of anxiety disorder and migraine on baseline startle indicates that these two diagnostic entities might in part share common pathophysiological mechanisms, and that the anxiety-migraine comorbidity should be considered when investigating each of these disorders.