Brain Excitability in Tension-Type Headache: a Separate Entity from Migraine?

Wei Ta Chen*, Fu Jung Hsiao, Shuu Jiun Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Tension-type headache is often regarded as the “normal” headache due to its high prevalence and mild disability in contrast with migraine. Clinically, both headaches are common comorbidities to each other. To date there has been many studies linked migraine to a brain excitability disorder. This review summarized earlier studies on brain excitability of TTH and discuss if TTH is a separate clinical entity from migraine as suggested by the diagnostic criteria. Recent Findings: A recent magnetoencephalographic study from our group enrolled patients with “strict-criteria” TTH (i.e., absence of any migraine characteristics and associated symptoms) to compare the somatosensory excitability with patients with migraine and controls. This study provided evidence that TTH and migraine differ in excitability profiles and the measurement of preactivation excitability was able to discriminate TTH from migraine. Summary: Earlier studies on brain excitability of TTH yielded negative findings or a common change shared with migraine. Future studies using strict diagnostic criteria to avoid the unwanted interference from migraine comorbidity may help decipher the “true” pathophysiology of TTH, which may pave the way to a TTH-specific brain signature and treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number82
JournalCurrent Pain and Headache Reports
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Brain excitability
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG)
  • Migraine
  • Neurophysiology
  • Somatosensory gating
  • Tension-type headache (TTH)


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