Controlling excitable wave behaviors through the tuning of three parameters

Biol Cybern. 2019 Apr;113(1-2):61-70. doi: 10.1007/s00422-018-0771-0. Epub 2018 Jul 28.


Excitable systems are a class of dynamical systems that can generate self-sustaining waves of activity. These waves are known to manifest differently under diverse conditions, whereas some travel as planar or radial waves, and others evolve into rotating spirals. Excitable systems can also form stationary stable patterns through standing waves. Under certain conditions, these waves are also known to be reflected at no-flux boundaries. Here, we review the basic characteristics of these four entities: traveling, rotating, standing and reflected waves. By studying their mechanisms of formation, we show how through manipulation of three critical parameters: time-scale separation, space-scale separation and threshold, we can interchangeably control the formation of all the aforementioned wave types.

Keywords: Excitable systems; Spiral waves; Standing waves; Wave propagation; Wave reflection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics*