Professor Manuel Casanova

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Biography and Keynote Speaker Abstract

Manuel Casanova, MD is the SmartState Endowed Chair of Childhood Neurotherapeutics at the University of South Carolina and the Greenville Health System. He belonged to the founding board of the National Alliance for Autism Research (now Autism Speaks) and the Autism Tissue Program. He has served on the Board of Directors or Scientific Advisory Board of numerous organizations (e.g., Autism Research Institute, Generation Rescue, Families for Effective Autism Treatment, Clearly Present Foundation) and is on the editorial board of 15 medical journals. Dr. Casanova served as the Chairperson for the Developmental Brain Disorders Study Section and has receives multiple awards including a Physician Recognition Award by the American Medical Association, A National Research Service Award by the Public Health Service, a Stanley Scholars Title, 2 honorary Professor degrees and a Contributing Piece Award by FEAT. He presently serves as the president of the International Consortium of Autism Centers. 

Dr. Manual Casanova’s cutting edge research on cortical connectivity and mini-columns has dramatically helped pave the understanding of the neurobiological differences and strengths of the dyslexic brain. Casanova’s research indicates that the dyslexic brain is one which is wired and connected for big picture, interdisciplinary thinking.


Dyslexia and Autism: Neuroanatomical Findings Pointing Towards a Spectrum of Cognitive Abilities

In this presentation, we will expand on recent neuroanatomical findings on the cerebral cortex that help explain a cognitive continuum into discrete neurodevelopmental conditions (i.e., autism and dyslexia). Within a given species, a range of observable cognitive characteristics vary according to how the cerebral cortex and its connections are structured. In humans, variations in the shape and dimensions of minicolumns (i.e., the microprocessor of the cerebral cortex) affect both the bias of short and long white matter projections, as well as the level of integration versus independence of different brain regions. Ultimately, this integration versus independence is responsible for the expression of behavioral traits in characteristically specific ways, e.g., top-down vs. bottom-up processing, detail- vs. holistically oriented, good analyzer vs. good synthesizers. Of significance, many of the above related structural findings can now be quantitated as a potential means for establishing early diagnosis. 

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