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Mapping a Migraine – 3/4/19

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In the fall of 1854, a British university student named Hubert Airy experienced what we know today as an Optical Migraine — characterized by first a small blind spot in the center of your vision, followed by jagged, pulsating geometric bands of chromatic light, ending in a splitting headache. Have you ever experienced one? Airy later became a physician and published a description of these “auras” in a professional medical journal (he wasn’t the first to document these visual anomalies, his father did too some 5 years earlier). In addition to his article, he included drawings of the hallucinations that he saw during the episodes. What he didn’t know at the time was his drawings were surprisingly accurate maps of the visual cortex of the brain. “Airy’s drawing fits beautifully with our modern conception of how the visual cortex is organized.” [Source: National Geographic.com]