Background: Photophobia is a common feature of migraine, which may involve abnormal cortical information processing. In electroencephalograms (EEG), photic driving is known as a reaction to visual stimulation. Both photophobia and photic driving response are present during light stimulation. We hypothesized that cortical response to photic stimulation would differ between migraine patients with and without aura. Methods: We recruited 50 migraine patients (migraine with aura [MWA] = 21; migraine without aura [MWOA] = 29). Spontaneous eyes-closed resting EEG from 20 electrodes on the scalp during the interictal phase was recorded. After recording, each photic stimulation was separately selected. We analyzed EEG by fast Fourier transform and observed the spectrum frequency peaks and topographies in response to photic stimulation. Exact low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (eLORETA) was used to compute the 3-dimensional intracerebral distribution of EEG activity. Results: Photic stimulation at frequencies 5, 8, 15, and 20 Hz showed significant differences between migraine patients with and without aura. MWOA patients consistently had a stronger response to photic stimulation than MWA patients. In all patients, the differential response was located in the visual cortex, except for the stimulation at 20 Hz, where the difference at subharmonic 10 Hz was located in the parietal cortex (Brodmann Area 7). Conclusion: We confirmed high incidences of photic hypersensitivity and photic driving responses in migraine patients. We suggest that repeated occurrences of cortical spreading depression in MWA may suppress cortical function, thus contributing to a weaker visual cortical response to photic stimulation in MWA patients compared with MWOA patients.

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