Visually guided associative learning in pediatric and adult migraine without aura

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Cephalalgia, Ahead of Print.
IntroductionThe Rutgers Acquired Equivalence Test is a visually guided equivalence learning paradigm that involves rule acquisition and generalization. Earlier we found impaired performance in this paradigm among adult migraine patients without aura. The aim of the study was to investigate if similar impairments can be found already in the pediatric form of the disease and to compare the performance of the pediatric study population with that of an adult study population. We hypothesized that the deficits observed in adults would be observable already in the pediatric population.MethodsTwenty-seven children and adolescents newly diagnosed with migraine without aura and 27 age- and sex-matched healthy controls were tested with the Rutgers Acquired Equivalence Test. Their performance data were compared to each other and those of an earlier adult study population involving 22 patients and 22 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Four parameters characterizing performance in the two main phases of the paradigm were calculated for each of the four groups. Performance parameters were compared with Mann-Whitney U test.ResultsIn contrast to the decreased performance of the adult patients in the Rutgers Acquired Equivalence Test, no significant difference was found between pediatric patients and controls in any phase of the paradigm.ConclusionChildren living with migraine without aura do not exhibit the same cognitive deficits in the Rutgers Acquired Equivalence Test as their adult counterparts. It can be hypothesized that the deficit of equivalence learning is not an inherent feature of the migrainous cognitive profile, rather the result of the interference of the disease with normal development.

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