The Etiology of Neuronal Development in Craniosynostosis: A Working Hypothesis

Eric D. Brooks, Joel S. Beckett, Jenny Yang, Andrew T. Timberlake, Alexander H. Sun, Carolyn Chuang, John A. Persing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Craniosynostosis is one of the most common craniofacial conditions treated by neurologic and plastic surgeons. In addition to disfigurement, children with craniosynostosis experience significant cognitive dysfunction later in life. Surgery is performed in infancy to correct skull deformity; however, the field is at a crossroads regarding the best approach for correction. Since the cause of brain dysfunction in these patients has remained uncertain, the role and type of surgery might have in attenuating the later-observed cognitive deficits through impact on the brain has been unclear. Recently, however, advances in imaging such as event-related potentials, diffusion tensor imaging, and functional MRI, in conjunction with more robust clinical studies, are providing important insight into the potential etiologies of brain dysfunction in syndromic and nonsyndromic craniosynostosis patients. This review aims to outline the cause(s) of such brain dysfunction including the role extrinsic vault constriction might have on brain development and the current evidence for an intrinsic modular developmental error in brain development. Illuminating the cause of brain dysfunction will identify the role of surgery can play in improving observed functional deficits and thus direct optimal primary and adjuvant treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-55
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Craniofacial Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Craniofacial
  • craniosynostosis
  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • event-related potential
  • functional MRI
  • neurocognitive
  • neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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