Abstract: A variety of anatomical and physiological evidence suggests that the brain performs computations using motifs that are repeated across species, brain areas, and modalities. This supports the idea that each cortical area conducts calculations using similarly structured neuronal modules: what we term canonical computational motifs. In the talk, we will briefly review the biological bases of canonical brain circuits and the role of inhibitory interneurons in these computational elements. We then elucidate how canonical computational motifs can be repeated across spatial and temporal scales to build a multiplexing information system able to encode and transmit information of increasing complexity. We point to the similarities between the patterns of activation observed in primary sensory cortices by use of electrophysiology and those observed in large scale networks measured with fMRI. We then employ the canonical model of brain function to unify seemingly disparate evidence on the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and autism in a single explanatory framework.