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The minicolumn hypothesis in neuroscience

Daniel P. Buxhoeveden, Manuel F. Casanova
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awf110 935-951 First published online: 1 May 2002


The minicolumn is a continuing source of research and debate more than half a century after it was identified as a component of brain organization. The minicolumn is a sophisticated local network that contains within it the elements for redundancy and plasticity. Although it is sometimes compared to subcortical nuclei, the design of the minicolumn is a distinctive form of module that has evolved specifically in the neocortex. It unites the horizontal and vertical components of cortex within the same cortical space. Minicolumns are often considered highly repetitive, even clone‐like, units. However, they display considerable heterogeneity between areas and species, perhaps even within a given macrocolumn. Despite a growing recognition of the anatomical basis of the cortical minicolumn, as well as its physiological properties, the potential of the minicolumn has not been exploited in fields such as comparative neuroanatomy, abnormalities of the brain and mind, and evolution.

  • Keywords: columnar organization; minicolumns; modules
  • Abbreviations: 2DG = 2‐deoxy glucose; IOS = intrinsic optical signal
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