Individuals with migraine show differences in visual perception compared to control groups. It has been suggested that differences in lateral interactions between neurons might account for some of these differences. This study seeks to further establish the strength and spatial extent of excitatory and inhibitory interactions in migraine-with-aura using a classic lateral masking task. Observers indicated which of two intervals contained a centrally presented, vertical Gabor target of varying contrast. In separate blocks of trials, the target was presented alone or was flanked by two additional collinear, high contrast Gabors. Flanker distances varied between 1 and 12 wavelengths of the Gabor stimuli. Overall, contrast thresholds for the migraine group were lower than those in the control group. There was no difference in the degree of lateral interaction in the migraine group. These results are consistent with the previous work showing enhanced contrast sensitivity in migraine-with-aura for small, rapidly presented targets, and they suggest that impaired performance in global perceptual tasks in migraine may be attributed to difficulties in segmenting relevant from irrelevant features, rather than altered local mechanisms.
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