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Low Spatial Frequency Contrast Sensitivity Deficits In Migraine Are Not Visual Pathway Selective

AM McKendrick, GP Sampson

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Some people who experience migraine demonstrate reduced visual contrast sensitivity that is measurable between migraines. Contrast sensitivity loss to low spatial frequency gratings has been previously attributed to possible impairment of magnocellular pathway function. This study measured contrast sensitivity using low spatial frequency targets (0.25–4 c/deg) where the adaptation aspects of the stimuli were designed to preferentially assess either magnocellular or parvocellular pathway function (steady and pulsed pedestal technique). Twelve people with migraine with measured visual field abnormalities and 17 controls participated. Subjects were tested foveally and at 10° eccentricity. Foveally, there was no significant difference in group mean contrast sensitivity. At 10°, the migraine group demonstrated reduced contrast sensitivity for both the stimuli designed to assess magnocellular and parvocellular function ( P < 0.05). The functional deficits measured in this study infer that abnormalities of the low spatial frequency sensitive channels of both pathways contribute to contrast sensitivity deficits in people with migraine.