Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey Holm


The present study was designed to examine possible neuropsychological deficits in migraine and tension headache subjects. Past research has been inconclusive, with some studies indicating that chronic migraine headache sufferers do exhibit some neuropsychological deficits such as short-term memory difficulties, gross motor slowing, and verbal memory deficits, while other studies have indicated that no deficits are seen in this group Also examined were headache precipitant and headache-related behaviors that these groups partake in when experiencing headache pain. Past research has suggested that migraine headache sufferers tend to deal with their headache pain differently than tension headache sufferers.

Ninety undergraduate psychology students took part in a 1 1/2 hour testing session where they completed a series of questionnaires about their headaches and neuropsychological testing.

Analysis of questionnaire data revealed that both tension and migraine headache sufferers consistently attributed their headaches to the same types of precipitants, though they tended to cope with headache pain in different ways. Analysis of neuropsychological data revealed that once the effects of depression had been factored out by ANCOVA, no significant differences between migraine headache sufferers and the other groups existed. In fact, the migraine headache sufferers showed a tendency to perform better than the other groups while experiencing depression. Chisquare revealed a significant number of subjects from all three groups scored in the impaired range on many of the tests, though there were no significant differences between groups in the number of subjects scoring in the impaired range. It remains puzzling as to exactly why this is the case and findings certainly require replication. Future neuropsychological investigations of migraine conducted longitudinally would be helpful in delineating the neuropsychological changes that may or may not occur in migraine headache sufferers.