Interhemispheric Relationships and Depression in Schizophrenia in the Perspective of Cerebral Laterality

  • Pierre Flor-Henry
Conference paper


In recent years there has been a greater understanding of the local circuits of regional cerebral disorganization, which increasingly, can be correlated with psychopathological manifestations or mental symptoms clusters. Since the brain of mammals, of primates, of homo sapiens is essentially a two brain system linked by a bridge, the corpus callosum, it is clear that lateralized perturbation of one hemisphere will necessarily have contralateral implications. Thus an understanding of the neurophysiology of the corpus callosum becomes essential. Norman Cook (1) provides an excellent and original review of the current knowledge on callosal transmission characteristics:
  1. 1.

    Most of the cortex except for the primary somatosensory the auditory and visual areas receive and send corpus callosal fibres.

  2. 2.

    The number of callosal fibres is of the order of 200 to 250 million.

  3. 3.

    There are approximately 125 million cortical columns per hemisphere, the fundamental functional unit of the cortex which when activated inhibit adjacent columnar units by surround inhibition.

  4. 4.

    Thus the approximate ratio of 2 callosal fibres for each cortical column implies that a topographical relationship between the hemispheres is anatomically feasible.

  5. 5.

    Because, in brain evolution, as the corpus callosum increases in size, there is a corresponding massive increase in functional brain asymmetry, the fundamental action of callosal transmission must be inhibitory rather than excitatory (because if it was excitatory with increasing efficiency of callosal transmission the two hemispheres would become more similar and more symmetrical. The opposite is, of course, the case).

  6. 6.

    This is confirmed by physiological experiments which indicate that stimulation of the corpus callosum produces a brief excitation followed by prolonged inhibition at the termination of the callosal fibres, which originate and end, in areas 3 and 4 of the cortex.

  7. 7.

    75% of callosal fibres form homotopic projections, the others are symmetrically heterotopic or project into the limbic system. Symmetrically heterotopic projections terminate in the homologous area contralaterally and ipsilaterally on one side.

  8. 8.

    Subcortical brain stem ascending monoaminergic arousal pathways are bilaterally symmetrical in their neocortical projection.

  9. 9.

    Thus in the above system cortical activation leads to a mirror image negative relationship between the cerebral hemispheres given the inhibitory function of the corpus callosum.



Corpus Callosum Left Hemisphere Cortical Column Acute Schizophrenia Affective Psychos 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierre Flor-Henry
    • 1
  1. 1.Alberta Hospital EdmontonEdmontonCanada

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