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The Journal of Headache and Pain

Official Journal of the "European Headache Federation" and of "Lifting The Burden - The Global Campaign against Headache"

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Volume 16 Supplement 1

1st Joint ANIRCEF-SISC Congress

Open Access

O069. Menstrual cycle affects cortical excitability differently in females with migraine and in healthy controls: a new perspective by cross modal sound induced flash illusions

  • Simona Maccora1Email author,
  • Carlo Mannina1,
  • Nadia Bolognini2, 3,
  • Piera Paladino1,
  • Roberta Baschi1,
  • Giuseppe Cosentino1,
  • Brigida Fierro1,
  • Giuseppe Vallar2, 3 and
  • Filippo Brighina1
The Journal of Headache and Pain201516(Suppl 1):A141

Published: 28 September 2015


MigraineProgesteroneEstradiolMenstrual CycleVisual Cortex


The sound-induced flash illusions (SIFI) represent a valid tool to explore multimodal perception and are critically dependent on visual and acoustic cortical excitability [1, 2]. In a previous study [3], we observed a significant reduction of illusions in migraine patients with respect to healthy controls, probably due to a condition of visual cortex hyperexcitability. Aim of the present study was to evaluate SIFI perceptions in healthy women and patients with menstrual migraine and to describe the effects of cyclical change of steroid hormones and cortical responsiveness.

Materials and methods

Nineteen women (11 affected with menstrual migraine, 8 healthy controls) were enrolled. Serum determination for sexual hormones (estradiol, progesterone) and a SIFI trial were performed in all participants in two different sessions on the 14th and 27th day of menstrual cycle.


Healthy women showed more illusions in the premenstrual (27th day) than in the luteal phase (14° day) (p < 0.01). Migraine patients did not show any difference during the two phases of menstrual cycle; they saw significantly less fissions illusions (p < 0.001) with respect to healthy women at 27th, but not at 14th day of menstrual cycle.


Results in healthy subjects are in line with hormonal effects on cortical excitability. During late follicular phase, the increase of estradiol could determine visual cortex hyperexcitability corresponding to a reduction of SIFI. Conversely, premenstrual fall of estradiol would account for restored illusions. Persistence of a reduced illusory susceptibility in both phases of menstrual cycle in migraine patients would underlie a reduced responsivity of visual cortex to hormonal fluctuation.

Written informed consent to publish was obtained from the patient(s).

Authors’ Affiliations

Dipartimento di Biomedicine Sperimentali e Neuroscienze Cliniche (BioNeC), Università di Palermo, Palermo, Italy
Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy
Laboratorio di Neuropsicologia, IRCCS Istituto Auxologico Italiano, Milan, Italy


  1. Shams L, Kamitani Y, Shimojo S: Illusions. What you see is what you hear. Nature. 2000, 408 (408): 788-View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bolognini N, Rossetti A, Casati C, Mancini F, Vallar G: Neuromodulation of multisensory perception: a tDCS study of the sound-induced flash illusion. Neuropsychologia. 2011, 49 (2): 231-237. 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.11.015.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Brighina F, Bolognini N, Cosentino G, Maccora S, Paladino P, Baschi R, Vallar G, Fierro B: Visual cortex hyperexcitability in migraine by sound-induced flash illusions. Neurology. 2015, 84 (20): 2057-2061. 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001584.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar


© Maccora et al. 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


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