Abstract BACKGROUND: Habituation deficit, suggesting a deregulation of cortical excitability, represents a typical hallmark of interictal stages of migraine. We previously demonstrated that several neurophysiological markers of altered cortical excitability are significantly correlated to spontaneous clinical fluctuations of migraine. We therefore aimed at verifying whether clinical fluctuations are correlated to specific patterns of somatosensory evoked potential (SEP) habituation. METHODS: We analyzed habituation after median nerve stimulation of both high-frequency oscillations (HFOs) and N20 SEP in 25 migraine patients and 18 healthy volunteers. Subjects underwent six consecutive series of 500 stimuli. RESULTS: Migraine patients as a whole showed a significant habituation deficit of the N20 response. Moreover, spontaneously worsening patients show a clear potentiation of this wave in the last block of stimuli, whereas in spontaneously improving patients the N20 amplitude remained stable. Presynaptic HFOs were smaller in worsening patients and larger in improving ones, but they did not undergo habituation in patients as well as in healthy subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Potentiation of the N20 response in spontaneously worsening migraineurs confirms that the reduction of the thalamocortical drive plays a major role in migraine pathogenesis. Moreover, the stable pattern we observed in spontaneously improving patients suggests that compensatory mechanisms can also play an important role. The normal response to repeated stimuli of HFOs in migraineurs might indicate that, although its initial amount depends on clinical conditions, high-frequency thalamocortical drive remains stable during the stimulation and probably reflects the activity of a buffer mechanism.