Rare condition makes scalp look like brain
This man has cutis verticis gyrata, a rare condition characterized by folds in the scalp.
October 19th, 2012
12:37 PM ET

Rare condition makes scalp look like brain

This is not a photo of a brain bulging out of someone's head.

Doctors reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that they diagnosed a case of a rare condition called cutis verticus gyrata, which causes the folds in the scalp to form - specifically, "ridges and furrows resembling the brain's surface," write Dr. Karen Regina Rosso Schons and Andre Avelino Costa Beber of Hospital Universitario de Santa Maria in Brazil.

These scalp changes started showing up two years before doctors saw the 21-year-old patient. He didn't display symptoms of neurological or psychiatric conditions, but he did have intellectual or learning impairment.

Doctors did not attempt an intervention because "the patient had no associated disorders and the condition did not bother him cosmetically."

After a year, the patient's presentation of his condition was the same, according to the report.

soundoff (1,001 Responses)
  1. Norm

    Oh yuck...dude grow some hair..

    October 19, 2012 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sree

      Grow some empathy for humanity!

      October 19, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Your reply shows an extreme lack of ignorance and empathy. Cutis verticis gyrata can cause baldness, with hair remaining within the folds, and if you had taken a moment to exam the picture beyond your disgust you may have noticed that it appears this man is suffering from that. "Grow some hair" may be out of his hands.

      October 19, 2012 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • DingGate

      "lack of ignorance"

      October 19, 2012 at 15:01 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      If my head looked like that, I'd shave it every day... that's cool as hell.

      October 19, 2012 at 15:16 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      @DingGate – Not sure why you repeated what I wrote? In case of confusion, my first reply was directed at Norm.

      October 19, 2012 at 15:19 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Oh, haha, now I realize what I wrote. I meant your post shows an extreme amount of ignorance and lack of empathy. Bah, I need to get more sleep.

      October 19, 2012 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
    • Quid Malmborg in Plano TX

      "...extreme lack of ignorance..." = "abundance of intelligence"???

      Your polemic was aimed in the right direction but seems to have missed the target with that one phrase.

      October 19, 2012 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
    • Big Red

      Scott: @DingGate repeated what you wrote because what you wrote was the opposite of what you meant. "Lack of ignorance" means that one is NOT ignorant. It helps to proofread before you click "Post."

      October 19, 2012 at 16:36 | Report abuse |
    • Pony879

      I am so surprised you would write that – must be so hard for this young guy to have that condition!

      October 19, 2012 at 16:51 | Report abuse |
    • Sidewinder

      How would you shave that? Man! You'd have knicks and cuts all over the place...little tiny wads of tp hanging off there...whew! You would have to go with Nair or something like that I bet.

      October 19, 2012 at 17:08 | Report abuse |
    • Olivia

      Norm that's the same thing I thought when I saw the picture. It looks nasty and he needs to grow some hair. I've seen other people that have scalps that look like this. eeewwww

      October 19, 2012 at 17:59 | Report abuse |
    • Stephen

      Norm, that comment was quite inappropriate.

      October 19, 2012 at 18:21 | Report abuse |
  2. brandon

    This is very much a "non-article"

    The only reasonable text is "hey look at this picture of this guy's weird head", but the author made a valiant attempt to tell us all about how it's not actually a brain and the doctors didn't do anything because the patient doesn't have a problem.

    October 19, 2012 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TheOriginalME

      Agree, they just found this disturbing picture and decided to make it an article, silly!

      October 19, 2012 at 14:05 | Report abuse |
    • elandau

      Hi brandon, I appreciate the feedback. Just so you know, as the article states, this photo was published in the New England Journal of Medicine with a brief description. We wanted to pass along information about this rare condition to CNN.com readers.

      Thanks for reading!
      Elizabeth Landau, CNN

      October 19, 2012 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
    • Ricky

      Hi Elizabeth – the article reads, "after a year, the patient was the same..." Does that mean that he was not born with that shape and that after a year the condition went away and he looked normal? or does that mean that the condition was observed for a year and during that time it did not progress?

      October 19, 2012 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
    • elandau

      Hi Ricky, thanks for your question - it appears that the patient's condition did not change after a year, i.e. his scalp still looked this way. I updated the article with that as well.

      Elizabeth Landau, CNN

      October 19, 2012 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
    • ORChuck

      Mr. brandon is exactly right. Slow news day I guess. This item has an intriguing picture, so they ran with it... gotta fill the space. You wouldn't think that there's a presidential election in just a few weeks or that the Middle East is blowing up.

      October 19, 2012 at 16:00 | Report abuse |
    • adopted USA

      Hey Orchuck, we have enough news about upcoming election and it's kind of making us sick already. About so called Middle Hole or Middle East we got sick long long time ago!

      October 19, 2012 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
  3. Deep

    A phrenologist's nightmare, or dream?

    October 19, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jen

      Phrenologist wet dream...

      October 19, 2012 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
  4. Oblap

    Hmm, I can get use to that....it's like a human Shar Pei.

    October 19, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Starstuff

      Yes, I was thinking about the Chinese Shar-Pei when I looked at that scalp.

      October 19, 2012 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
  5. stwebb

    The buzz cut doesn't work for everyone!!!

    October 19, 2012 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Really?

      I agree. Grow some hair. Problem solved.

      October 19, 2012 at 13:28 | Report abuse |
    • murpis

      Depends on how you look at it. Some people might think it's cool looking.

      October 19, 2012 at 17:13 | Report abuse |
  6. lindaluttrell

    I am amazed at how his hair was cut for that pic without damaging his scalp...

    October 19, 2012 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mark

      You cant damage the scalp, i forcfully dig into my scalp with the clippers, its fine, its not how you would think.

      January 5, 2017 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
  7. DB9

    Hey look its Shane Battier!

    October 19, 2012 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • guy_v_world


      October 19, 2012 at 14:50 | Report abuse |
    • B

      haha . i was thinking the same thing. looks kinda scrotty. 🙂

      October 19, 2012 at 14:50 | Report abuse |
    • mark

      Google Shane battier diseas.

      January 5, 2017 at 17:13 | Report abuse |

    Add the bagel look on the forehead. Life is short. When given lumps, make wavy gravy.

    October 19, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. joe


    October 19, 2012 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. smartaz

    Zombies love this guy.

    October 19, 2012 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. wangwhack


    October 19, 2012 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. conrad

    Big deal ... Most people with really short hair have weird looking heads.

    October 19, 2012 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Mike H

    Grow some hair and hope you never go bald.

    October 19, 2012 at 13:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Mike Jackson

    Where can I find information about this condition. My son has what appears to be this condition, but Dr's have not diagnosed it as they are dumbfounded as to what it could be.

    October 19, 2012 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Osama


      October 19, 2012 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
  15. batjones

    Dear CNN and Ms. Landau: I must scold you for a poorly presented article. I am tempted to side with Brandon's remarks – "This is very much a "non-article". The classification of cutis verticus gyrata as a disease is misleading, in that no impairment to the organs has been found. It would be more appropriate to call CVG a condition, and at best maybe an abnormality.

    I know an individual with this condition who is a college graduate and an engineer. The article states that the"...21-year-old patient with this condition didn't display symptoms of neurological or psychiatric conditions, but he did have intellectual or learning impairment." This too is misleading, because you take only one individual example and suggest that the individual's intellectual or learning impairment is due to his condition of CVG. You offer no further example, sample, study or statistics.

    Please retract and rewrite.

    October 19, 2012 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • elandau

      Dear batjones,

      I very much appreciate your feedback. I have changed the word "disease" to "condition" because upon reflection that is more appropriate and I thank you for that. This short description is merely of one patient's experience and not necessarily representative of all cases; I did not mean to suggest that intellectual impairment was related to the condition necessarily, it was just noted by the doctors.

      Thanks for reading.

      Elizabeth Landau, CNN

      October 19, 2012 at 14:39 | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Hmmmm....isn't skin the body's largest organ? Seems a bit impaired to me.

      October 19, 2012 at 15:21 | Report abuse |
    • jsharkey725

      Elizabeth, you missed one...still called a disease under the picture.
      "This man has cutis verticis gyrata, a rare disease characterized by folds in the scalp."

      October 19, 2012 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
    • ahayes

      The caption has been updated as well. Thank you for being a careful reader!
      Ashley Hayes, CNN

      October 19, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse |
    • jen

      Skin is the largest organ, not internal organ, but largest organ.

      October 19, 2012 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
  16. driveby

    I think I see a couple of cat faces

    October 19, 2012 at 13:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Chad

    Great head if you're an entertainer. Could also play a villan.

    October 19, 2012 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. JC

    I think Shane Battier used to have this – http://bit.ly/Ra7RoW

    October 19, 2012 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al

      I was just going to ask the collective if Shane Battier has/had this. He doesn't have any development issues that I know of though, he's known for being a cerebral guy.

      October 19, 2012 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
  19. Scrape

    The story is a picture. Appealing to the non-reader now CNN. Cripes.

    October 19, 2012 at 14:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. truefax

    It's something we don't discuss with outsiders

    October 19, 2012 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. John

    Looks like he would be an ultra supergenius.

    October 19, 2012 at 14:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Keith

    This has been something I have seen in the African-American community since I was a kid and it is just getting attention. WOW!

    October 19, 2012 at 14:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Al

      Yeah, I've seen plenty of cases that look similar, at least from a cosmetic standpoint. The article makes it sounds as if this is an incredibly rare case.

      October 19, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • abovegroundbelowzero

      I agree; you see this condition commonly in the military, in basic and technical training environments where everyone has a shaved head. The suggestion that it is rare I think has more to do with it being covered by hair especially among those who have the condition. There also was an implication that the condition is associated with mental impairment which I think is unsupported.

      October 19, 2012 at 14:58 | Report abuse |
  23. MB

    I worked with a man who has this condition. It's not always so mild. It becomes really bad in conjunction with acne. The poor guy had to have surgery. This condition causes hair to grow under the skin, resulting in infection and eventual patchy hairloss.

    October 19, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. GG

    Pretty cool workspace for a tattoo artist. I'd get something really cool done on my dome if it looked like that.

    October 19, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MB

      Best comment.

      October 19, 2012 at 14:59 | Report abuse |
  25. Hmm

    Am I wrong to assume that if would just grow out his hair, this would not be an issue?

    October 19, 2012 at 15:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Donald

    This is an extreme case of something I see almost every day. The interesting thing is, a very funny coworker of mine came into the lunch room today and saw another coworker who has been absent a lot lately "Its good to see your wrinkled head in here again". The guy she was referring to has this same condition. And I always take note of coincidences. So hearing that today and seeing this article makes me go hmmm.

    October 19, 2012 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • chad

      Reminds me a song I used to know. "Things that make Don go hmmm, things that make him go hmm, ya things that make him hmmmm.."

      October 19, 2012 at 15:25 | Report abuse |
  27. pete

    That's Shane Battier's head

    October 19, 2012 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Vancooler360

    That's gross!!!! 🙁

    October 19, 2012 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pop

      Get a life. dude... you have people putting tattoo on their bold head.

      October 19, 2012 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
  29. pop

    Who the #UCK shaved his hair?


    October 19, 2012 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. jessy

    I would get that scalp tatted up and flaunt it to the world.

    October 19, 2012 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. GwynLOC

    I know that guy! It's the Toxic Avenger!

    October 19, 2012 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Carlo

    Looks more like a scrotum than a brain.

    October 19, 2012 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Corey

    looks a little like Shane Battier

    October 19, 2012 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. GazaMan


    October 19, 2012 at 15:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. LL

    I've seen worse.

    October 19, 2012 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Ms M

    Poor tired Scott. I got your point that people are ignorant and show a total lack of empathy. As it's been mentioned several times now, people with this condition probably also suffer from baldness so this guy can't just grow hair to make other people not grossed out when they look at him. How about you all just don't look if it bothers you so much!!

    October 19, 2012 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Spocko

    The dermal cells are behaving like dura matter cells. A miscommunication to say the least.

    October 19, 2012 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply

    I saw this on reddit first. Clearly, CNN employees spend a lot of time on the site & if they don't find anything they can report, they do interviews with people like Violentacrez on Anderson Cooper 360.

    October 19, 2012 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ahayes

      Thanks for your comment. I'm sure this may have appeared elsewhere but this was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, as we say in the article.
      Ashley Hayes, CNN

      October 19, 2012 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
  39. Mr. Gross

    Sick. Scalp the man.

    October 19, 2012 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. martiniano

    But, but, I mean, what? This is only part of the article. Does the scalp actually look like that man's brain surface? Like the DNA is mixed up? Or is this just a skin condition that happens to look like brain folds? Does it have any other symptoms? Does it spread to the face or stay within the hairline?

    October 19, 2012 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. I-have-it

    I have this and shave my head. I get a lot of interesting looks. But then again only certain people can pull a bald head.

    October 19, 2012 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Brains...yum!

    I have seen countless men with this condition. Most are African-American. Why is this news?

    October 19, 2012 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Brainiac

      That makes sense because like african americans this guy too has intellectual and learning impairments.

      October 19, 2012 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
  43. Abdullo

    I have seen similar looking fruits in Chinese fruit market.

    October 19, 2012 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Brainiac

    God's cruel joke. A guy with intellectual and learning impairments and it looks like his brain is huge and bulging from his skull. Of course the condition does not bother him cosmetically, he's a mental chimp.

    October 19, 2012 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Jerry

    Hey, it's Shar Pei Man!

    Insensitive, I know, but lighten up!)

    October 19, 2012 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. topgod


    October 19, 2012 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Daniel

    I have seen this on fat men.

    October 19, 2012 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Jupman

    I new a guy "Basic" that had this if freaking cool. Like the best Holloween prop ever

    October 19, 2012 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. DebAH

    Just goes to show how truly fortunate we are. All it takes is one tiny blip in our DNA and we could easily have a disease like this.

    October 19, 2012 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Proud of it...

      Oh, please... "disease"?! I have this and I look awesome. People assume I'm paying some hair stylist $50 to shave wavy lines into my head so I'll look cool. It's a purely cosmetic condition and I wouldn't change it if I could. (In fact I'm quite worried that my wrinkles may have faded a little with age, despite what Wikipedia says about there being no "cure".)

      October 19, 2012 at 19:49 | Report abuse |
    • vancouverron

      I think this looks cool. If my head looked like this, I wouldn't mind going bald so much. I bet chicks would love running their hands across my verticus gyrata.

      October 19, 2012 at 20:06 | Report abuse |
    • guest

      First of all, don't shave your head if you have this (should be obvious).

      Secondly, I've seen plenty of people with "shar pei" head. It's not that rare.

      October 19, 2012 at 21:41 | Report abuse |
    • Trooolololooool

      You are fcking stup!d if you think this looks cool. It looks like someone just fck'd up your hair. Get over yourself, your condition makes you look horrible. Accept it.

      October 19, 2012 at 22:05 | Report abuse |
    • Ferit

      I agree with most commentators. don't buzz cut your hair and you'll be fine.

      October 20, 2012 at 00:43 | Report abuse |
    • donna

      "... but he did have intellectual or learning impairment."

      And you folks think that's cool?

      October 20, 2012 at 12:58 | Report abuse |
  50. HulkSmash

    Puny humans, you are all wrong! This is Hulk's enemy the Leader!!!

    October 19, 2012 at 18:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • xavier

      LOL good one!!! It'll go over the head of most people but as a comic reader I get it.

      October 19, 2012 at 19:33 | Report abuse |
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