Roller coasters could help combat migraines, as those affected “experience travel sickness differently”, as a study shows

RIDING roller coasters may help fight migraines after new research has found that people experience motion sickness differently.

New insights from the groundbreaking German study could be the key to developing new treatments for the unfortunate ailment.


Migraineurs suffered from different brain activity during the roller coaster simulationPhoto credit: Getty

It found that participants who experienced the virtual roller coaster ride had altered brain cell activity related to dizziness and motion sickness, even if they are not currently experiencing migraines.

The study carried out at the University of Lübeck found that migraine sufferers often feel sicker and dizzy than others when driving with white knuckles.

Those who experience more motion sickness and a general feeling of inability to work from migraines also have other different brain activities during a roller coaster ride, explained researcher Gabriela Ferreira Carvalho.

“Our results show that the areas of the brain associated with processing migraine pain overlap with brain systems that regulate motion sickness and dizziness,” she told NewScientist.

“People with migraines not only have headaches, they also often suffer from other illnesses such as motion sickness and dizziness, which can severely affect their quality of life.


“So this study really gives us a better idea of ​​what’s going on [in their brains]. “

The study involved performing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on the brains of 40 people, half of whom suffer from regular migraines.

The groups saw 35 minutes of lifelike animated footage of roller coaster rides with realistic audio of the experience on a screen in an MRI scanner.

None of the participants, who were 80 percent female and on average 30 years old, had migraines during the experiment.

But 65 percent of the migraine group said they felt dizzy during the simulation, while only 30 percent of the control group did.

Those affected also reported that their levels of motion sickness were twice that of the other group, while other information showed that their symptoms of dizziness and nausea also lasted three times longer.

Carvalho said the fMRI scans reinforced that notion, as they showed increased activity in areas of the brain responsible for vision, pain perception, sensorimotor processing, balance, and dizziness in normal migraineurs.

More neural communication was also noted between these areas of the brain and other regions – but less activity in the areas concerned with cognitive functions, including attention.

The study found that those with more severe migraines and more motion sickness experienced more changes in brain activity during the virtual roller coaster ride.

“People who have migraines or not have different ways of processing information about movement and gravity, and these results reflect that,” Carvalho said.

The innovative probe could be key to discovering why some people experience migraines and lead to the development of new treatments if the results are confirmed by a greater number of people.

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, the neurological disease affects 1 billion people worldwide.

The virtual simulation study could be the key to new treatments and the discovery of the cause of migraines


The virtual simulation study could be the key to new treatments and the discovery of the cause of migrainesPhoto credit: Getty