Background and purpose: Converging evidence suggests that migraine has, in part, a vascular basis. In turn, vascular pathology is a strong risk factor for cognitive decline. In this population-based study, we studied cognition amongst individuals with and without migraine. Methods: In 6708 participants of the Rotterdam Study, migraine was assessed using a validated questionnaire. Cognition was assessed by the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) and a dedicated cognitive test battery. Participants were classified as non-migraineurs (n = 5399), migraineurs (n = 1021) or probable migraineurs (n = 288). Multivariable linear regression was used to cross-sectionally evaluate the association between migraine and cognition, adjusting for age, sex and cardiovascular risk factors. Additionally, we stratified the analysis by sex and by migraine subtype. Results: Migraineurs had higher mean MMSE scores [unstandardized regression coefficient 0.21, (95% confidence interval, 0.08; 0.34)] and global cognition [0.10 (0.04; 0.15)] than non-migraineurs. This difference was particularly marked for migraineurs with aura [MMSE: 0.39 (0.13; 0.66); global cognition: 0.13 (0.01; 0.24)]. Migraineurs performed better on tests of executive function and fine motor skills amongst specific cognitive domains. The difference in MMSE between migraineurs and non-migraineurs was greater in women [0.25 (0.10; 0.40)] than in men [0.13 (−0.15; 0.40)], whereas the difference in global cognition was similar in men and women [0.15 (0.04; 0.27) and 0.09 (0.02; 0.15), respectively]. Conclusions: Migraineurs, particularly migraineurs with aura, tend to score higher in cognition tests than non-migraineurs. More studies are needed to corroborate these findings.

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European Journal of Neurology
Department of Epidemiology

Wen, K.-X., Nguyen, N.T., Hofman, A., Ikram, K., & Franco, O. (2016). Migraine is associated with better cognition in the middle-aged and elderly: the Rotterdam Study. European Journal of Neurology, 23(10), 1510–1516. doi:10.1111/ene.13066