Research topic: Pharmacological fMRI in Headache


Migraine is a disabling and very common primary headache disorder characterized by recurrent moderate to severe mostly unilateral and pulsating headache. Although the treatment of migraine has improved in the last decade and several studies have shown the efficiency of headache specific medication, until today little is known about their central effect on pain processing.
This project therefore focuses on the effect of - in the treatment of migraine - routinely used medication on central pain processing systems.

As imaging techniques give us the opportunity to gain a better understanding of drug processes and help to understand where drugs reveal their therapeutic effect, we use functional resonance imaging (fMRT) to investigate the possible modulation of a standardized trigeminal-nociceptive stimulation by migraine specific medication. Furthermore, we investigate differences in pain processing between healthy volunteers and migraineurs.

Key publications

Kröger IL, May A (2013) Pharmacological neuroimaging in headache and pain. Curr Opin Neurol 26:254-261.

A Stankewitz, D Aderjan, F Eippert & A May; Trigeminal nociceptive transmission in migraineurs predicts migraine attacks. Journal of Neuroscience (2011) 31: 1937-43

A. Stankewitz & A. May; Increased limbic and brainstem activity during migraine attacks following olfactory stimulation; Neurology (2011) 77: 476-482

A. Stankewitz, Enrico Schulz & A. May; Neuronal correlates of impaired habituation in response to repeated trigemino-nociceptive but not to olfactory input in migraineurs: An fMRI study; Cephalalgia (2012) 33(4) 256-265

I Ellerbrock, A Engel, A May; Microstructural and network abnormalities in headache; Current Opinion in Neurology (2013): Aug;26(4):353-9

May A; Pearls and pitfalls: neuroimaging in headache. ; Cephalalgia. (2013) 8:554-65.