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Relationship between vertical facial pattern and brain structure and shape



Dolichofacial (long-faced) and brachyfacial (short-faced) individuals show specific and well-differentiated craniofacial morphology. Here, we hypothesise that differences in the basicranial orientation and topology between dolicho- and brachyfacial subjects could be associated with differences in the supporting brain tissues.

Material and methods

Brain volumes (total intracranial, grey matter, and white matter volume), cortical thickness, and the volumes and shapes of fifteen subcortical nuclei were assessed on the basis of magnetic resonance imaging in 185 subjects. Global, voxel-wise and shape analyses, as well as multiple regression models, were generated to evaluate the association between vertical facial variations (dolicho- and brachyfacial spectrum) and brain morphology.


Several differences in brain anatomy between dolicho- and brachyfacial subjects, along with relevant associations between vertical facial indices and brain structure and shape, were found. The most relevant finding of this study is related to the strong association of vertical facial indices with the volumes and shapes of subcortical nuclei, as the dolichofacial pattern increased, the bilateral hippocampus and brain stem expanded, while the left caudate, right pallidus, right amygdala, and right accumbens decreased in volume.


Long- and short-faced human subjects present differences in brain structure and shape.

Clinical significant

The results of our study increase the clinician’s knowledge about brain structure in dolicho- and brachyfacial patients. The findings could be of interest since the affected brain areas are involved in higher cognitive functions in humans, including language, memory, and attention.

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This research was funded by CGL2016–75109-P (Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, Spain).

Author information

J.A.A., A.R., and A.C. conceived and designed the study and wrote original draft. M.V.T. and A.C. carried out the acquisition and analysis of data. P.G.M. coordinated and supervised the research. J.A.A. performed the editing and visualization of the paper. All authors critically revised and approved the submitted version of the manuscript.

Correspondence to José Antonio Alarcón.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The protocol of the study was granted by the Research Ethics Commission of the University of Granada, Spain (with reference 905). This study was carried out in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Alarcón, J.A., Velasco-Torres, M., Rosas, A. et al. Relationship between vertical facial pattern and brain structure and shape. Clin Oral Invest (2020).

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  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Brain
  • Craniofacial
  • Vertical dimension
  • Dentofacial orthopedists
  • Orthodontics