Cortical Mechanisms of Depression

Manuel F. Casanova, M.D. – Principal Investigator

Dr. Cassanova’s group studies modules of cortical circuitry whose connectivity provide for the emergence of higher cognitive functions. These modules, designated as minicolumns by Mountcastle, derive from the radial migration of neuronal precursors along a glial scaffolding. Although minicolumns are originally symmetric during cortical development with ageing they become highly variable even within a given brain region. Our studies examine the amount of minicolumnar variability in patients with major depression. Preliminary studies suggest that decreased minicolumnar variability in major depression hardwires the way information processing is performed in the cortex. The resulting arrangement of cortical modules limits the way parallel networks process complementary information and reduces circuit optimization.