RIDING roller coasters could help combat migraines after new research discovered that sufferers experience motion sickness differently.
Fresh findings from the pioneering German study could be key in developing new treatments for the unfortunate ailment.
It found that participants who experienced the virtual roller coaster ride had altered brain cell activity related to dizziness and motion sickness, even if they weren’t currently enduring a migraine.
The study, conducted at the University of Luebeck in northern Germany, found migraine sufferers often feel sicker and dizzier on white-knuckle rides than the rest.
Those who feel more motion sickness and a general sense of incapacitation from migraines also have further differing brain activity during a rollercoaster ride, researcher Gabriela Ferreira Carvalho explained.
“Our findings show that the brain areas related to processing of migraine pain overlap with brain systems that regulate motion sickness and dizziness,” she told NewScientist.
“People with migraines don’t just have headaches; they also often experience other conditions like motion sickness and dizziness which can really affect their quality of life.
MORE BRAIN ACTIVITY
“So this study really gives us a better idea about what’s going on [in their brains].”
The study involved conducting functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on the brains of 40 people, half of who regularly experience migraines.
The groups watched lifelike-animated footage of roller coaster rides, with realistic audio of the experience, for 35 minutes on a screen inside an MRI scanner.
None of the participants, who were 80 per cent female and aged 30 on average, suffered from a migraine during the experiment.
But 65 per cent of the migraine group said they felt dizzy during the simulation, whereas only 30 per cent of the control group did.
Sufferers also reported their level of motion sickness was double that of the other group, while other info showed their dizziness and nausea symptoms also lasted three times longer.
Carvalho said the fMRI scans reinforced this notion, as they showed heightened activity in areas of the brain responsible for vision, pain perception, sensory-motor processing, balance, and dizziness of regular migraine sufferers.
More neural communication was also detected between these brain areas and other regions – but had less activity in the areas which deal with cognitive functions, including attention.
The research found those who experience more severe migraines and more motion sickness recorded more changes in brain activity during the virtual roller coaster ride.
“People who do and do not have migraines process information about motion and gravity differently, and these findings reflect that,” Carvalho said.
The innovative probe could be the key to finding out why some people experience migraines and lead to the creation of new treatments if the results are confirmed amongst larger numbers of people.
The neurological condition affects a whopping 1 billion people worldwide, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.