Migraine comorbidity and cognitive performance in patients with focal epilepsy

January 23, 2020

Authors: Olivia A.J. Begasse de Dhaem, Jacqueline French, Chris Morrison, Kimford J. Meador, Dale C. Hesdorffer, Sabrina Cristofaro, Mia T. Minen, on behalf of the HEP Investigators

Journal: Epilepsy & Behavior

DOI: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2019.05.008

Year Published: 2019


Migraine and epilepsy are comorbid conditions. While it is well known that epilepsy can have an impact on cognitive abilities, there is conflicting evidence in the literature on the relationship between migraine and cognitive function. The aim of this study was to assess whether migraine comorbidity in patients with newly diagnosed focal epilepsy is associated with cognitive dysfunction.


This is a post hoc analysis of data prospectively collected for the Human Epilepsy Project (HEP). There were 349 participants screened for migraine with the 13 questions used in the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention (AMPP) study. Participants were also screened for depression using the Neurological Disorder Depression Inventory for Epilepsy (NDDI-E) and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and for anxiety using the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) scale. Cognitive performance was assessed with the Cogstate Brief Battery and Aldenkamp-Baker Neuropsychological Assessment Schedule (ABNAS).


About a fifth (21.2%) of patients with a new diagnosis of focal epilepsy screened positive for migraine. There were more women and less participants employed full time among the participants with comorbid migraine. They reported slightly more depressive and anxious symptoms than the participants without migraine. Migraine comorbidity was associated with ABNAS memory score (median: 2, range: 0-12, Mann Whitney U p-value: 0.015). However, migraine comorbidity was not associated with Cogstate scores nor ABNAS total scores or other ABNAS domain scores. In linear regressions, depression and anxiety scores were associated with the ABNAS memory score.


In this study, there was no association between migraine comorbidity and objective cognitive scores in patients with newly diagnosed focal epilepsy. The relationship between migraine comorbidity and subjective memory deficits seemed to be mediated by the higher prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms in patients with epilepsy with comorbid migraine.

Back to Publications