Original article| Volume 34, ISSUE 8, P640-647, September 2012

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Psychophysiological mechanisms underlying spatial attention in children with primary headache

Published:November 18, 2011DOI:



      Neurophysiological studies to evaluate spatial attention in children with primary headache are lacking. Tactile spatial attention modulates the N140 somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) amplitude.
      The aims of the study are: (1) to investigate the effect of spatial attention on the N140 amplitude in children with migraine and tension-type headache (TTH) and in healthy children, and (2) to correlate the neurophysiological results with a neuropsychological test for spatial attention.


      We studied 16 patients with migraine without aura (MoA), 12 TTH children and 10 healthy subjects. “Deux Barrage” test for spatial attention was administered. SEPs were recorded in a neutral condition (NC) and in a spatial attention condition (SAC).


      No significant differences in neuropsychological measures were found between MoA, TTH and healthy subjects. The N140 amplitude increase during SAC, as compared to NC, was significantly higher in patients than in healthy controls. Migraineurs showed a positive correlation between the N140 amplitude increase during SAC and their neuropsychological performance.


      Although spatial attention performances in children with headache are as good as in controls, the N140 amplitude increase during SAC in headache patients suggests that the psychophysiological mechanisms subtending spatial attention are different from those in healthy children.


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