Small gray matter volume in orbitofrontal cortex in Prader-Willi syndrome: a voxel-based MRI study

Hum Brain Mapp. 2011 Jul;32(7):1059-66. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21089. Epub 2010 Jul 28.


Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetically determined neurodevelopmental disorder presenting with behavioral symptoms including hyperphagia, disinhibition, and compulsive behavior. The behavioral problems in individuals with PWS are strikingly similar to those in patients with frontal pathologies, particularly those affecting the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). However, neuroanatomical abnormalities in the frontal lobe have not been established in PWS. The aim of this study was to look, using volumetric analysis, for morphological changes in the frontal lobe, especially the OFC, of the brains of individuals with PWS. Twelve adults with PWS and 13 age- and gender-matched control subjects participated in structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. The whole-brain images were segmented and normalized to a standard stereotactic space. Regional gray matter volumes were compared between the PWS group and the control group using voxel-based morphometry. The PWS subjects showed small gray-matter volume in several regions, including the OFC, caudate nucleus, inferior temporal gyrus, precentral gyrus, supplementary motor area, postcentral gyrus, and cerebellum. The small gray-matter volume in the OFC remained significant in a separate analysis that included total gray matter volume as a covariate. These preliminary findings suggest that the neurobehavioral symptoms in individuals with PWS are related to structural brain abnormalities in these areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome / pathology*
  • Young Adult