Resting cranial and upper cervical muscle activity is increased in patients with migraine

Azin S. Janani, Kenneth J. Pope, Nicole Fenton, Tyler S. Grummett, Hanieh Bakhshayesh, Trent W. Lewis, Dean H. Watson, Emma M. Whitham, John O. Willoughby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To compare comprehensive measures of scalp-recorded muscle activity in migraineurs and controls. Method: We used whole-of-head high-density scalp electrical recordings, independent component analysis (ICA) and spectral slope of the derived components, to define muscle (electromyogram-containing) components. After projecting muscle components back to scalp, we quantified scalp spectral power in the frequency range, 52–98 Hz, reflecting muscle activation. We compared healthy subjects (n = 65) and migraineurs during a non-headache period (n = 26). We also examined effects due to migraine severity, gender, scalp-region and task (eyes-closed and eyes-open). We could not examine the effect of pre-ictal versus inter-ictal versus post-ictal as this information was not available in the pre-existing dataset. Results: There was more power due to muscle activity (mean ± SEM) in migraineurs than controls (respectively, −13.61 ± 0.44 dB versus −14.73 ± 0.24 dB, p = 0.028). Linear regression showed no relationship between headache frequency and muscle activity in any combination of region and task. There was more power during eyes-open than eyes-closed (respectively, −13.42 ± 0.34 dB versus −14.92 ± 0.34 dB, p = 0.002). Conclusions: There is an increase in cranial and upper cervical muscle activity in non-ictal migraineurs versus controls. This raises questions of the role of muscle in migraine, and the possible differentiation of non-ictal phases. Significance: This provides preliminary evidence to date of possible cranial muscle involvement in migraine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1913-1919
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • Cranial muscle activity
  • Independent component analysis
  • Migraine
  • Quantification
  • Scalp electrical recordings


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