Cerebral cortical dimensions in headache sufferers aged 50-66 years: a population-based imaging study in the Nord-Trondelag Health Study (HUNT-MRI)
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Based on previous clinic-based magnetic resonance imaging studies showing regional differences in the cerebral cortex between those with and without headache, we hypothesized that headache sufferers have a decrease in volume, thickness, or surface area in the anterior cingulate cortex, prefrontal cortex, and insula. In addition, exploratory analyses on volume, thickness, and surface area across the cerebral cortical mantle were performed. A total of 1006 participants (aged 50-66 years) from the general population were selected to an imaging study of the head at 1.5 T (HUNT-MRI). Two hundred eighty-three individuals suffered from headache, 80 with migraine, and 87 with tension-type headache, whereas 309 individuals did not suffer from headache and were used as controls. T1-weighted 3D scans of the brain were analysed with voxel-based morphometry and FreeSurfer. The association between cortical volume, thickness, and surface area and questionnaire-based headache diagnoses was evaluated, taking into consideration evolution of headache and frequency of attacks. There were no significant differences in cortical volume, thickness, or surface area between headache sufferers and nonsufferers in the anterior cingulate cortex, prefrontal cortex, or insula. Similarly, the exploratory analyses across the cortical mantle demonstrated no significant differences in volume, thickness, or surface area between any of the headache groups and the nonsufferers. Maps of effect sizes showed small differences in the cortical measures between headache sufferers and nonsufferers. Hence, there are probably no or only very small differences in volume, thickness, or surface area of the cerebral cortex between those with and without headache in the general population.