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Doreen Wagner, Velitchko Manahilov, Gael E. Gordon, Gunter Loffler; Global Shape Processing Deficits Are Amplified by Temporal Masking in Migraine. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(2):1160-1168. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.12-11242.
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Individuals with migraine show subtle defects in a range of visual tasks compared to nonmigraineurs. Increased neuronal noise can account for some of these deficits. To examine the generality of increased noise in migraine, masking effects were compared in migraineurs and headache-free controls using a shape discrimination task, thought to involve processing in extrastriate cortical areas.
Nine migraineurs with aura, nine migraineurs without aura, and nine headache-free controls participated. Observers had to detect deviations in circular shapes with or without a larger contour mask. The nonoverlapping mask was presented at five temporal intervals (stimulus onset asynchronies, SOA): 0 (simultaneous), 66, 100, 133, and 250 ms.
Migraineurs with aura performed worse in all tests than migraineurs without aura and controls. Both migraine groups performed poorer than controls at discriminating shapes without masks. Typical masking functions were obtained from all groups, but they were steeper for migraineurs than controls with thresholds raised most dramatically (2.1 and 4.4 times for migraineurs without and with aura relative to controls, respectively) at SOAs where masks had their most detrimental effect (66–100 ms). Modeling the effect of masking showed that raised internal noise alone is insufficient to explain these deficits. Rather, an abnormal nonlinear transducer function (e.g., as part of gain-control) together with increased multiplicative noise is required to capture the data.
The findings are consistent with an extrastriate deficit in migraine that cannot be explained completely by defective inhibition.
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