Control of multistability in ring circuits of oscillators
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The essential dynamics of some biological central pattern generators (CPGs) can be captured by a model consisting of N neurons connected in a ring. These circuits, like many oscillatory nonlinear circuits of sufficient complexity, are capable of multistability, that is, of generating different firing patterns distinguished by the phasic relationships between the firing in each circuit element (neuron). Moreover, a shift in firing pattern can be induced by a transient perturbation. A systematic approach, based on phase-response curve (PRC) theory, was used to determine the optimum timing for perturbations that induce a shift in the firing pattern. The first step was to visualize the solution space of the ring circuit, including the attractive basins for each stable firing pattern; this was possible using the relative phase of N−1 oscillators, with respect to an arbitrarily selected reference oscillator, as coordinate axes. The trajectories in this phase space were determined using an iterative mapping based only on the PRCs of the uncoupled component oscillators; this algorithm was called a circuit emulator. For an accurate mapping of the attractive basin of each pattern exhibited by the ring circuit, the emulator had to take into account the effect of a perturbation or input on the timing of two bursts following the onset of the perturbation, rather than just one. The visualization of the attractive basins for rings of two, three, and four oscillators enabled the accurate prediction of the amounts of phase resetting applied to up to N−1 oscillators within a cycle that would induce a transition from any pattern to any another pattern. Finally, the timing and synaptic characterization of an input called the switch signal was adjusted to produce the desired amount of phase resetting.
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