The purpose of this study was to assess the cognitive functioning of children affected by headache, pinpointing the differences in intelligence style between subjects affected by migraine without aura and subjects with tension-type headache.
The study population consisted of 147 children (mean age 10.82 ± 2.17 years) with headache, recruited from the Headache Center for Developmental Age, Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry Clinic, Second University of Naples. Cognitive profiling was performed using Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children Third Edition throughout the sample. According to the International Classification of Headache Disorders II criteria for pediatric age, subjects were divided into a migraine without aura group (n = 75; 43 boys, 32 girls) and a tension-type headache group (n = 72; 49 boys, 23 girls). The results were compared with the findings obtained from a sample of 137 healthy control subjects recruited from schools in the Campania region, matched for age and gender.
No difference in full intelligence quotient was found between the groups, but the children with tension-type headache had a lower verbal intelligence quotient and a higher performance intelligence quotient than the healthy controls and children with migraine. Factor analysis data showed that the children with migraine seemed to have lower perceptual organization than the children affected by tension-type headache.
To our knowledge, studies on cognitive functioning in children affected by headache in the interictal phase are scarce, and our results suggest a new perspective in understanding of the neuropsychological aspects of young patients affected by headaches.
Keywords: childhood headache, intelligence quotient, Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children Third Edition, intelligence, migraine