Cortical spreading depression

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Animation of cortical spreading depression

Cortical spreading depression (CSD) is a wave of electrophysiological hyperactivity followed by a wave of inhibition, usually in the visual cortex.[1]

Uses of the term[edit]

Neuroscientists use the term cortical spreading depression to represent at least one of the following cortical processes:

The scintillating scotoma of migraine in humans may be related to the neurophysiologic phenomenon termed the spreading depression of Leão.[3]

The spreading depression wave progresses across the cortex at approximately 2–5 mm/minute.[4]

Increased extracellular potassium ion concentration and excitatory glutamate contribute to the initiation and propagation of cortical spreading depression, which is the underlying cause of migraine aura.[5]

Chronic daily administration of migraine prophylactic drugs (topiramate, valproate, propranolol, amitriptyline, and methysergide) dose-dependently suppressed frequency of CSD induced by continuous cortical application of 1 M KCl solution.[6] However lamotrigine (a drug with specific anti-aura action, but no efficacy in migraine in general) has a marked suppressive effect which correlates with its rather selective action on the migraine aura. Valproate and riboflavin were shown to have no effect on the triggering of cortical spreading depression though they are effective in migraine without aura.[7] Taken together, these results are compatible with a causal role of cortical spreading depression in migraine with aura, but not in migraine without aura.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dodick DW & Gargus JJ (August 2008). "Why migraines strike". Scientific American.
  2. ^ Brennan KC, Beltrán-Parrazal L, López-Valdés HE, Theriot J, Toga AW, Charles AC (2007). "Distinct vascular conduction with cortical spreading depression". Journal of Neurophysiology 97 (6): 4143–4151. doi:10.1152/jn.00028.2007. PMID 17329631. 
  3. ^ Leão AAP (1944). "Spreading depression of activity in the cerebral cortex". J Neurophysiol 7: 359–390. 
  4. ^ Porooshani H, Porooshani GH, Gannon L, Kyle GM (2004). "Speed of progression of migrainous visual aura measured by sequential field assessment". Neuro-Ophthalmology 28 (2): 101–105. doi:10.1076/noph. 
  5. ^ Richter and Lehmenkühler (2008)
  6. ^ Ayata; et al. (Apr 2006). "Suppression of cortical spreading depression in migraine prophylaxis". Ann Neurol 59 (4): 652–61. doi:10.1002/ana.20778. PMID 16450381. 
  7. ^ Bogdanov; et al. (Feb 2011). "Migraine preventive drugs differentially affect cortical spreading depression in rat". Neurobiol Dis. 41 (2): 430–5. doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2010.10.014. PMID 20977938. 


  • "Cortical spreading depression causes and coincides with tissue hypoxia", Nat Neurosci. 29 April 2007, Takano T, Tian GF, Peng W, Lou N, Lovatt D, Hansen AJ, Kasischke KA, Nedergaard M., Department of Neurosurgery, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York.
  • "A delayed class of BOLD waveforms associated with spreading depression in the feline cerebral cortex can be detected and characterised using independent component analysis (ICA)", Magn Reson Imaging. 21 November 2003, Netsiri C, Bradley DP, Takeda T, Smith MI, Papadakis N, Hall LD, Parsons AA, James MF, Huang CL., Physiological Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
  • "Cortical spreading depression (CSD): A neurophysiological correlate of migraine aura", Schmerz, May 17, 2008, Richter F, Lehmenkühler A.

Further reading[edit]