The Migraine World Summit: Modelling Neurological Disease

Posted 21 April 2016 by Markus Dahlem


I was asked earlier this year to contribute to a series of video lectures from over 30 world leading migraine experts, doctors and specialists. I happily agreed and here is the result. The video is open access only for a short period, so watch it now. Here is a brief introduction.   He develops computational models of neurological diseases in which massive changes in the energy state of neurons play a major role, e.g., in migraine, stroke, & epilepsy. The... Read more

Physics against headaches

Posted 20 May 2015 by Markus Dahlem


[Transcript of my talk at the Pint of Science Festival in Berlin] Physics and headaches—I'm afraid for many people, who hear these two words, they think of them in one and only one combination, namely that physics causes a headache. Think about this. If I were to say that, for example, literature, Goethe and Shakespeare give me a headache, everyone would look at me as a complete philistine. While one usually gets away with saying that physics causes a headache.... Read more

Why we need to raise awareness of neurological diseases and mental disorders

Posted 6 April 2015 by Markus Dahlem


Sufferers from many neurological diseases and mental disorders face significant stigma. Discrimination related to these conditions can act as a barrier to receiving treatment. Terrible events like the crash of the Germanwings flight 9525 remind us why we need to raise more awareness. Michele Bachmann's facebook post is not just sad. As new revelations start to unfold it becomes tragically ironic, moreover these revelations point to an increasingly important medical problem. Guess whom I was reminded of as evidence began to emerge... Read more

Mobile healthcare and migraine – my early steps

Posted 11 March 2015 by Markus Dahlem

There can be no doubt, mobile healthcare (mHealth) will change medicine in general and migraine in particular. But how? Ten years ago, I thought about this for the first time. Together with others, we wrote a business plan for a startup company whose main product should have been an—well, today, I would call it an “app”. Back then, I may have used the words “smart client application”. The product was a mobile electronic headache diary combined with a method to... Read more

Personalized electroceuticals

Posted 28 September 2014 by Markus Dahlem

We have a new preprint online. In this study, we explore with computer models why protocols for the use of medical devices that treat migraines should be personalized. Our numerical simulations suggest that in migraine pathological activity nucleates in hot spots and traverses the convoluted cortical surface like being in a labyrinth. As a result, accessible target structures for neuromodulation are like fingerprints, they are individual features of each migraine sufferer. Within the scientific community, the preprint can and should... Read more

19 video talks on migraine & mathematics

Posted 12 July 2014 by Markus Dahlem

We had a workshop on “Cortical Spreading Depression (CSD) and Related Neurological Phenomena” at the Fields Institute in Toronto, Canada. All talks are available online here. CSD is a phenomemon that links neuronal activity in the brain during migraine with aura to stroke and epilepsy. The common factor is disturbed ion homeostasis in the cortex. The Fields Institute in Toronto is an international centre for research in mathematical sciences, which may sound surprising as this workshop is seemingly about neurology. In fact, we had and needed... Read more

Never seen a neuron without being in contact to an ion reservoir

Posted 4 May 2014 by Markus Dahlem

We have a new paper out: N. Hübel, E. Schöll, and M.A. Dahlem, Bistable Dynamics Underlying Excitability of Ion Homeostasis in Neuron Models, PLOS Comp. Biol. 10, e1003551, 2014. With this paper, we hope to set the stage for modeling a phenomenon known as “spreading depression”. Spreading depression is neither It's an unfortunate name because spreading depression is neither. It's not a process that does spread out like perfume spreads around a room or a particle wave packet spreads out in free space. We would... Read more

Causality confusion in migraine

Posted 25 April 2014 by Markus Dahlem

Is eating chocolate a migraine trigger or a symptom? We put a new manuscript on arxiv. Its central message is that in migraine we should expect a blurring of usually opposing distinctions such as trigger and symptom. Migraine is an inherently dynamical disease with a complex network of interdependent events. There is no linear course from upstream to downstream events. In this manuscript, we describe a behavior caused by a ‘tipping point’ and how it explains causality confusion between triggers... Read more

When neurons let off steam

Posted 23 April 2014 by Markus Dahlem

We put a new manuscript on arxiv. Niklas Hübel and I investigate an extension to the classical theory by Hodgkin and Huxley (Nobel Prize 1963) that in its original version describes nerve impulses (spikes). Spikes manifest communication between nerve cells. Their underlying mechanism is an all-or-non phenomenon, also called “excitability”. Excitability as a mechanism describes how a certain excitable state persists for some time following an input signal, a suprathreshold stimulation that, however, is terminated at some point long before... Read more

FDA allows marketing of magnetic stimulator for migraine with aura

Posted 14 December 2013 by Markus Dahlem

“It's like something you'd see on Star Trek”. That's how it was described five years ago in this video: therapeutic magnetic stimulation in migraine. This technique is investigated for much longer. Now, yesterday, the FDA allowed marketing of the first transcranial magnetic stimulator for migraine with aura. And only for migraine with aura, as I understand it—I will get back to this point. The decision is based on a new study published in “Headache” that concludes: “Two decades of clinical experience with sTMS [single... Read more