Neurocognition as a biomarker in the rare autonomic disorders of CCHS and ROHHAD

Frank A. Zelko*, Remi Z. Welbel, Casey M. Rand, Tracey Stewart, Allaa Fadl-Alla, Ilya Khaytin, Susan M. Slattery, Debra E. Weese-Mayer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: Congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS) and rapid-onset obesity with hypothalamic dysfunction, hypoventilation, and autonomic dysregulation (ROHHAD) are rare disorders of autonomic regulation with risk for disrupted neurocognitive development. Our aim is to summarize research on neurocognitive outcomes in these conditions, advance understanding of how to best support these individuals throughout development, and facilitate future research. Methods: We conducted a narrative review of literature on neurocognitive outcomes in CCHS and ROHHAD, supplemented with previously unpublished data from patients with CCHS and ROHHAD at our Center for Autonomic Medicine in Pediatrics (CAMP). Results: Individuals with CCHS and ROHHAD experience a wide range of neurocognitive functioning ranging from above average to below average, but are at particular risk for difficulties with working memory, processing speed, perceptual reasoning, and visuographic skills. An assessment framework emphasizing fluid cognition seems especially appropriate for these conditions. Owing to small cohorts and varied methods of data collection, it has been difficult to identify associations between disease factors (including CCHS PHOX2B genotypes) and cognitive outcomes. However, results suggest that early childhood is a period of particular vulnerability, perhaps due to the disruptive impact of recurrent intermittent hypoxic episodes on brain and cognitive development. Conclusion: Neurocognitive monitoring is recommended as a component of routine clinical care in CCHS and ROHHAD as a marker of disease status and to ensure that educational support and disability accommodations are provided as early as possible. Collaborative efforts will be essential to obtain samples needed to enhance our understanding of neurocognitive outcomes in CCHS and ROHHAD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-230
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Autonomic Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Autonomic (dys)regulation
  • Cognition
  • Congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS)
  • PHOX2B
  • Rapid-onset obesity with hypothalamic dysfunction, hypoventilation, and autonomic dysregulation (ROHHAD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology


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