The Neuropsychology of Recurrent Headache

Elliot Hospital, Manchester, New Hampshire, United States
Headache The Journal of Head and Face Pain (Impact Factor: 2.71). 11/2006; 46(9):1364-76. DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2006.00579.x
Source: PubMed


Headache is recognized as one of the most prevalent neurological disorders, and is the most frequently reported symptom following injury to the head, brain, or neck. Although studies of central nervous system abnormalities in headache sufferers have emerged in recent years, less is known about the associated functional impairments. The research literature addressing neuropsychological consequences of headache has been far from conclusive. Migraine has been most extensively studied, with some consistent evidence of subtle but potentially significant changes in cognition occurring during and between migraine episodes. It also appears likely that migraine patients with aura experience more neuropsychological deficits than those without aura. While the literature devoted to understanding the neurocognitive profile of migraine sufferers is growing, much less research has addressed the neuropsychology of tension-type headache and posttraumatic headache (PTHA). There is some suggestion of poorer neuropsychological function in tension-type headache than controls, but the evidence is inconclusive. The PTHA population is highly varied in degree and location of trauma, preexisting headache condition, and other injury-related variables, allowing little generalization across studies. This paper summarizes research regarding the cognitive symptoms associated with migraine, tension-type headache, and PTHA, provides an overview of the cognitive side effects of headache medications, and addresses clinical implications and priorities for future research.

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    • "These nuclei connect to limbic cortical areas and play a role in the modulation of alertness (a), learning and memory (an and md) and attention, planning , organization, abstract thinking, and multitasking (md). Previous clinical studies have reported deficits of attention, memory, and information speed that were worse in MWA patients than in MWoA and HC (for review, see [O'Bryant et al., 2006]). Future studies should aim at correlating structural alterations in these thalamic nuclei with neuropsychological tests assessing their functional performance. "
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    ABSTRACT: (Headache 2006;46:1324-1326)
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