The Neuroimaging of Headache Disorders Laboratory uses multimodal brain-imaging techniques to identify imaging biomarkers for the diagnoses of migraine and concussion and for prognosticating clinical outcomes and recovery. Specially, the lab focuses on the following research areas.

Pathophysiology of migraine and concussion

To study the shared and distinct pathophysiology of migraine and concussion, the lab uses T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging to determine cortical thickness, regional volumes and cortical surface area; diffusion tensor imaging to investigate white matter tract integrity; resting-state functional connectivity analyses to determine brain functional organization; and event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate brain processing of sensory stimuli.

Related areas include:

  • Pain processing in migraine. To better understand whether pain processing is altered in patients with migraine or affected by migraine-specific factors, such as headache frequency, years lived with migraine and time to next headache, quantitative sensory testing (QST) is performed to measure pain thresholds and pain tolerance thresholds. QST results are also used to determine temperatures required for eliciting moderate-intensity pain while participants undergo fMRI.
  • Alterations in brain structure and function due to migraine. The lab is investigating whether alterations in brain structure or function are related to migraine burden, such as headache frequency and number of years with migraine as well as clinical factors such as symptoms of allodynia and photophobia.

Brain injury and recovery patterns in concussion

The lab is elucidating the structural and functional brain injury and recovery patterns following concussion to better understand whether injury and recovery patterns differ between sexes.

Predictive modeling of disease states and brain biomarker research

The diagnoses of concussion and migraine are largely reliant upon patients' self-reported symptoms being consistent with diagnostic criteria determined via expert consensus. An objective biomarker for these diagnoses would help to refine diagnostic criteria.

The lab uses statistical multivariate modeling techniques based upon structural and functional imaging data for classifying patients from healthy controls. Furthermore, the lab is building models that enable the accurate classification of migraine subtypes, such as episodic and chronic migraine as well as building models that distinguish patients who have migraine from patients with post-traumatic headache and other headache disorders based solely upon brain magnetic resonance imaging data.

Studying the effects of medication on the brain

The focus of this area of research is on the impact of preventive migraine medication on pain-induced activation of the migraine brain. The lab is using imaging (MRI) to study the changes in brain function and structure that correlate with clinical response to a CGRP monoclonal antibody.