Brain functional connectivity in headache disorders: A narrative review of MRI investigations

Catherine D. Chong, Todd J. Schwedt, Anders Hougaard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) is used to interrogate the functional connectivity and network organization amongst brain regions. Functional connectivity is determined by measuring the extent of synchronization in the spontaneous fluctuations of blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) signal. Here, we review current rs-fMRI studies in headache disorders including migraine, trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias, and medication overuse headache. We discuss (1) brain network alterations that are shared amongst the different headache disorders and (2) network abnormalities distinct to each headache disorder. In order to focus the section on migraine, the headache disorder that has been most extensively studied, we chose to include articles that interrogated functional connectivity: (i) during the attack phase; (ii) in migraine patients with aura compared to migraine patients without aura; and (iii) of regions within limbic, sensory, motor, executive and default mode networks and those which participate in multisensory integration. The results of this review show that headache disorders are associated with atypical functional connectivity of regions associated with pain processing as well as atypical functional connectivity of multiple core resting state networks such as the salience, sensorimotor, executive, attention, limbic, visual, and default mode networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-669
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • Functional connectivity
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • medication-overuse headache
  • migraine
  • trigeminal autonomic cephalalgias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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