The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)


Patterns of morphological integration in the brain in infants with craniosynostosis

RESHA J. DESAI1, JORDAN R. AUSTIN1, ERIN N. SMALLMON1, LISA G. HOWELL1,2, KIMBERLY K. COLE1, IAN D. GEORGE1, JEFFREY L. MARSH3, ALEX A. KANE4, JAYESH PANCHAL5, JOAN T. RICHTSMEIER2 and KRISTINA ALDRIDGE1.

1Pathology & Anatomical Sciences, University of Missouri School of Medicine, 2Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University, 3Plastic Surgery, St. John's Mercy Medical Center, 4Plastic Surgery, Children's Medical Center, 5Plastic Surgery, Genesis Plastic Surgery

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The complex structure of the vertebrate brain develops intimately and in concert with the overlying skull, with each influencing the other. Morphological integration (MI) is the quantitative study of patterns of developmental interactions among parts of an organism. It has been posited that perturbations of development lead to decreased measures of MI. Craniosynostosis is defined by premature fusion of cranial sutures, and is associated with craniofacial dysmorphology. Here we test the hypothesis that altered development of the head in infants with craniosynostosis will be reflected in decreased magnitudes of MI of the brain as compared to the brain in typically-developing infants.

Our sample consists of magnetic resonance images of 10 infants with sagittal synostosis (SS) and 10 age-matched unaffected (UA) infants. We manually segmented 3D surfaces of the brain from the MRIs using Amira 5.2©. We then collected 3D landmark coordinate data from these surfaces using etdips©. Patterns of morphological integration in the brain between SS and UA infants were statistically compared using MIBoot© software. Our results show that, in general, the magnitude of MI is similar in the two groups of infants. However, there are localized patterns of statistically significant differences in MI. These patterns include decreased integration in the association of measures of the frontal lobe with the location of the anterior temporal lobe. These results suggest that alterations of skull development are associated with changes in the patterns of development of the underlying brain.

Work supported in part by NIH/NIDCR R01DE018500; R01DE018500-02S1

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