Phase response approaches to neural activity models with distributed delay

Biol Cybern. 2022 Apr;116(2):191-203. doi: 10.1007/s00422-021-00910-9. Epub 2021 Dec 2.


In weakly coupled neural oscillator networks describing brain dynamics, the coupling delay is often distributed. We present a theoretical framework to calculate the phase response curve of distributed-delay induced limit cycles with infinite-dimensional phase space. Extending previous works, in which non-delayed or discrete-delay systems were investigated, we develop analytical results for phase response curves of oscillatory systems with distributed delay using Gaussian and log-normal delay distributions. We determine the scalar product and normalization condition for the linearized adjoint of the system required for the calculation of the phase response curve. As a paradigmatic example, we apply our technique to the Wilson-Cowan oscillator model of excitatory and inhibitory neuronal populations under the two delay distributions. We calculate and compare the phase response curves for the Gaussian and log-normal delay distributions. The phase response curves obtained from our adjoint calculations match those compiled by the direct perturbation method, thereby proving that the theory of weakly coupled oscillators can be applied successfully for distributed-delay-induced limit cycles. We further use the obtained phase response curves to derive phase interaction functions and determine the possible phase locked states of multiple inter-coupled populations to illuminate different synchronization scenarios. In numerical simulations, we show that the coupling delay distribution can impact the stability of the synchronization between inter-coupled gamma-oscillatory networks.

Keywords: Coupled oscillators; Distributed delay; Phase response curve; Wilson–Cowan model.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Neurons* / physiology