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The effects of estradiol levels on crossmodal perception: a study on the sound induced flash illusion in healthy and menstrually related migraine individuals

  • Autori: Maccora, Simona; Bolognini, Nadia; Mannina, Carlo; Torrente, Angelo; Agnello, Luisa; Lo Sasso, Bruna; Ciaccio, Marcello; Sireci, Guido; Brighina, Filippo
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2023
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


ObjectiveThe sound-induced flash illusion (SIFI) is a valid paradigm to study multisensorial perception. In the "fission" SIFI, multiple flashes are perceived when observing a single flash paired with two or more beeps. SIFI is largely dependent on visual and acoustic cortex excitability; in migraine, dysfunctional cortical excitability affects SIFI perception. Since estrogen peak occurring during ovulation can increase neuronal excitability, the present study aims to verify whether cortical excitability shifts linked to the menstrual cycle could influence SIFI.MethodsIn a comparative prospective study, we tested the effect of estrogens on crossmodal perception using the SIFI. We recruited 27 females in reproductive age, including 16 healthy and 11 menstrually related migraine females, testing their proneness to SIFI on day 14 (high estradiol) and day 27 (low estradiol) of menstrual cycle.ResultsWomen on day 14 reported less flashes than on day 27 (p = 0.02) in the fission illusion, suggesting a pro-excitatory effect of estradiol on visual cortex excitability during ovulation. Moreover, we confirmed that migraine women perceived less flashes (p = 0.001) than controls, independently from cycle phase. Non-migraineurs women significantly reported more flashes on day 27 than on day 14 (p = 0.04).ConclusionsThis study suggests that estradiol may influence the multisensory perception due to changes of visual cortex excitability, with high estradiol peak leading to increased visual cortical sensitivity during ovulation in non-migraineurs. Visual cortex hyperresponsiveness, here reflected by reduced SIFI, is not influenced by estradiol fluctuations in migraine women, as shown by reduced fission effects on day 14 and 27.