Stripes May Trigger Brain Activity Responsible for Migraine

Studies in the U.S. and the Netherlands may have identified another trigger for individuals with migraine. These new studies suggest that stripes can trigger activity in the brain that can be responsible for triggering a migraine attack. Stripes in clothing, artwork, blinds, and radiator grills can trigger an attack for individuals with migraine, especially if they are sensitive to light, according to the studies.

“Our findings imply that in designing buildings, it may be important to avoid the types of visual patterns that can activate this circuit and cause discomfort, migraines, or seizures,” Dora Hermes, MD told The Telegraph.

Stripes have also been connected to epilepsy.

“Even perfectly healthy people may feel modest discomfort from the images that are most likely to trigger seizures in photosensitive epilepsy,” said Hermes of the University Medical Center (UMC), Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Researchers reviewed scientific literature and believe stripe patterns set off a sequence of neural activity known as gamma oscillations. Natural images, such as clouds, do not.

Neural activity varied depending on the width or whether the lines started to form a grid pattern. Dorothée Kasteleijn-Nolst Trenité, MD, an epileptologist of UMC Utrecht, said vertical orientation of stripes are more likely to trigger a migraine or seizure than horizontal stripes.

This research was published in Current Biology.

6 comment on “Stripes May Trigger Brain Activity Responsible for Migraine

  1. Christine Hennig

    This corresponds to experiences I have had in hitherto unexplained onset of migraines or certainly visual discomfort since I do not get as many migraines now that I am in my 70s. I will pass on to my daughter who is in her 40s and gets many migraines a month. Very interesting. CAH-Illinois, USA

  2. Carol Burch

    Thanks for information. I’ve had many visual triggers but so far no stripes.

  3. Ann

    It would have been great to not publish this with a pic of stripes since migraine sufferers are likely readers. So -thanks for that! I ended up only reading it with my hand in front of the photo.

  4. Adele L

    Absolutely stripes are a major trigger for me! The current trend of black and white stripped clothing is especially upsetting. I feel nauseous just thinking about them!

  5. Debbie Moore

    They bother my eyes. I sense they are moving when I look at them.

  6. Geri

    This article helps with understanding more about triggers for migraines. I find that I am not able to look at very busy patterns on clothes. It feels unsettling and does not evoke a feeling of calmness.

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