Autism pp 349-360

Part of the Current Clinical Neurology book series (CCNEU) | Cite as

The Significance of Minicolumnar Size Variability in Autism

A Perspective from Comparative Anatomy
  • Manuel F. Casanova


Recent postmortem studies indicate the presence of diminished minicolumnar size in the cortex of patients with autism as compared to controls. A diminution in minicolumnar width in autism restricts the absolute span of this module’s variability in both size and associated circuitry. Anatomically, minicolumns can be divided into cell core and peripheral neuropil space compartments. Development of the pyramidal cell core is constrained by radial cell migration and their attendant radially oriented axons and dendrite bundles. A major portion of a minicolumn’s variability resides in its peripheral neuropil space where its constituent cells and process are more heterogeneous regarding their sources. This heterogeneity may have provided brains, in both evolution and development, with a way of adapting the function of minicolumns within specific networks. We surmise that minicolumnar variability is the result of genetic and epigenetic influences that provide for combinatorial diversity within overlapping networks resulting in behavioral flexibility.


Autism brain minicolumns variability cortex 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press, a part of Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manuel F. Casanova
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryGottfried and Gisela Endowed Chair in Psychiatry, University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

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