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Increased visual after-effects in migraine following pattern adaptation extend to simultaneous tilt illusion

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Much previous research into visual processing in migraine supports a model of abnormal cortical processing, in between the headache attacks, that is characterised by hyperexcitability, heightened responsiveness, a lack of habituation and/or a lack of intra-cortical inhibition. Shepherd (2001) reported two adaptation studies that challenged this view, one using the tilt after-effect, the second using the motion after-effect. Models of cortical function in migraine based on hyperexcitability and a lack of inhibition lead to specific predictions in an adaptation study: there should have been smaller after-effects in people with migraine than in people without. Both experiments, however, revealed larger after-effects in the migraine group than in the control group. Here, these results are extended to the simultaneous tilt illusion and an identical pattern of results was obtained: there were consistently larger effects in the migraine group than in the control group. The results from the three experiments are not consistent with a lack of inhibition in migraine. The results are discussed in terms of alternative models of cortical function, including a lack of excitation and reduced central energy reserves.

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