Cognitive profile and disorders affecting higher brain functions in paediatric patients with neurofibromatosis type 1

Neurologia (Engl Ed). 2019 Jul-Aug;34(6):353-359. doi: 10.1016/j.nrl.2017.02.010. Epub 2017 Apr 18.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Introduction: Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common neurocutaneous syndrome often associated with specific cognitive deficits that are rarely monitored during follow-up of these patients.

Objective: The purpose of our study is two-fold. First, we aimed to describe the cognitive profile of patients with NF1 and detect disorders in higher brain functions associated with the disease. Second, we identified the reasons for consultation associated with school performance in these patients.

Methods: We conducted a descriptive cross-sectional study of 24 paediatric patients (ages 5 to 16) with NF1 who underwent neuropsychological assessment.

Results: The most frequent reasons for consultation were attention deficits (58.33%), learning disorders (25%), poor motor coordination (25%), and language impairment (0.8%). Although 96% of the patients displayed impairments in at least one of the assessed areas, only 83.34% of the parents had reported such impairments. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder was present in 58.33% of the patients, whereas 33.33% had nonverbal learning disabilities, 20.83% had expressive language disorder, 8.33% had borderline intellectual functioning, 4.16% had mental retardation, and only 4.16% showed no cognitive impairment.

Conclusion: Higher brain functions are frequently impaired in paediatric patients with NF1. Although many parents report such disorders, they can go undetected in some cases. Neuropsychological assessment is recommended for all paediatric patients with NF1 to detect cognitive impairment and provide early, effective rehabilitation treatment.

Keywords: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Enfermedades neurocutáneas; Funciones superiores; Higher brain function; Learning disability; Neurocutaneous syndromes; Neurofibromatosis; Neuropsicología; Neuropsychology; Trastorno por déficit de atención; Trastornos del aprendizaje.

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / diagnosis
  • Intellectual Disability / epidemiology
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Language Disorders / epidemiology
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis*
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / psychology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data