Modelling of cardiac rhythm: from single cells to massive networks

  • D. Noble
  • J. C. Denyer
  • H. F. Brown
  • R. Winslow
  • A. Kimball
Conference paper
Part of the Perspectives in Neural Computing book series (PERSPECT.NEURAL)


The development of models of the sinoatrial node cell is reviewed to show the steady progress from the early models based on voltage clamp of small multicellular preparations to permeabilized patch clamp of isolated single cells. It is shown that the kinetics of the hyperpolarizing-activated current, i f, are finely tuned to ‘buffer’ the cardiac pacemaker frequency against changes in other conductance parameters, in particular background conductances.

These single cell models have now been oncorporated into large scale network models: N x N meshes with neightbouring cells electrically coupled by resistors representing gap junctions. With 128 x 12 8 sinus cells, and random distribution of instrinsic properties, only two nexus channels (unit conductance 50 pS) between neighbouring cells are required to entrain the cells and between 20 and 200 channels will synchronize activity almost completely throughout the array. These very low densities of gap junctions are consistent with experimental observations (Masson-Pevet et al, 1979). When intrinsic properties are distributed between the node centre and periphery using a Gaussian function, and with the same magnitude of cell-to-cell coupling, and exitatory wave starts in the peripheral regions of the node and propagates towards the centre,i.e. the opposite direction to that in the normal heart. This occurs experimentally when the rabbit sinus node is separated from the atrium (Kirchhoff et al, 1987). Surrounding the node model with an atrial network shifts the origin of excitation towards the centre of the node.


Sinus Node Node Cell Sinoatrial Node Pacemaker Potential Sinoatrial Node Cell 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Noble
    • 1
  • J. C. Denyer
    • 1
  • H. F. Brown
    • 1
  • R. Winslow
    • 2
  • A. Kimball
    • 2
  1. 1.University Laboratory of PhysiologyParks RoadOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Physiology and Army High Performance Computer CenterUniversity of MinnesotaUSA

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