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Neurology. 2000 Feb 22;54(4):914-20.

Brain volume in children with neurofibromatosis type 1: relation to neuropsychological status.

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Division of Pediatrics, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.



To determine characteristics of brain morphology in children and adolescents with neurofibromatosis type 1 and relate these characteristics to neuropsychological functioning.


Neurofibromatosis type 1 is associated with numerous CNS abnormalities and cognitive impairment. Abnormal high signal intensity visible on brain MRI, brain tumors, and macrocephaly are common. Research into links between neuroanatomic and cognitive features has been inconclusive.


Fifty-two children and adolescents with neurofibromatosis type 1 were compared with 19 control subjects on several quantitative neuroanatomic and neuropsychological measures.


Total brain volume, especially gray matter, was significantly greater for neurofibromatosis type 1 subjects than the control subjects. Group differences in the ratio of gray matter to white matter were more prominent in younger than in older subjects. Volume of gray matter in the subjects with neurofibromatosis type 1 was related to their degree of learning disability. Corpus callosum size was significantly larger for subjects in the neurofibromatosis type 1 group, and diminished performance on measures of academic achievement and visual-spatial and motor skills were associated with greater regional corpus callosum size.


Neuroanatomic morphology and the developmental pattern of gray matter and white matter in subjects with neurofibromatosis type 1 differed from in control subjects. Some of these differences are related to the neuropsychological status of the neurofibromatosis type 1 group. We propose that delayed developmental apoptosis results in macrocephaly and a delay in the development of appropriate neuronal connections in children with neurofibromatosis type 1. We further propose that these morphologic delays are related to the cognitive profile of neurofibromatosis type 1.

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