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Potential cause of migraine identified

15 January 2010

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Category: Research & medical benefits

rat–lab.jpgRays of light act as a potential trigger for migraine attacks, a study on rats has found.

Migraine sufferers believe that their condition worsens upon exposure to light. Even those who are legally blind (not able to form images but still sensitive to light) have been known to find their migraine worsen with light intensity.

This effect of light even in the visually impaired led scientists to hypothesise that migraines may be caused by non image-forming pathways of neurones in the body.

Now scientists are able to reveal the role of light when an attack occurs. They studied the neural pathways of rats using techniques to detect and record neural activity stimulated by light. From this the scientists were able to map the neural response and link it to previously identified pathways involved in migraines.

The research confirms that migraines can be made worse by light exposure and it is this specific non image forming pathway which is responsible.

Scientists hope drugs could be developed to block this pathway and help stop migraines. Meanwhile sufferers could avoid exposure to light for a short period of time to alleviate the pain when an attack occurs.