Migraines and Auras

If you are among the 1 out of 3 migraine sufferers who have an aura before a migraine, you know how unsettling this can be. Auras may include:

  • Visual disturbances (jagged lines, called fortification spectra, with bright spots or flashes)

  • Short-term (temporary), partial vision loss

  • Numbness

  • Tingling feelings

Scientists have tried to understand the migraine aura for years. But until recently, they didn't have the tools to study brain activity during a migraine attack. Today, a functional MRI can be done on someone having a migraine. This has let researchers see waves of altered electrical activity (called spreading depression), spreading across the brain during an aura. Experts believe that different parts of the brain are stimulated as these waves cross the brain. This causes aura symptoms. Recently, certain proteins released by nerve cells (neuropeptides) have been shown to be linked to migraine and aura. Researchers think that the reason why only some people with migraine have auras is that their brain is highly sensitive to certain triggers.

Online Medical Reviewer: Joseph Campellone MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2021
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