EPJ B Highlight - Taming neural excitations

Spatio-temporal plots of complex space time patterns in excitable media. © C. Bachmair et al.

A theoretical study of short- and long-range effects on neural excitation pulses might one day lead to controlling harmful signals such as those in strokes

What do lasers, neural networks, and spreading epidemics have in common? They share a most basic feature whereby an initial pulse can propagate through a medium—be it physical, biological or socio-economic, respectively. The challenge is to gain a better understanding—and eventually control—of such systems, allowing them to be applied, for instance to real neural systems. This is the objective of a new theoretical study published in EPJ B by Clemens Bachmair and Eckehard Schöll from the Berlin University of Technology in Germany. Ultimately, with a better theoretical understanding, scientists aim to control such excitations in networks of neurons to prevent their detrimental effects like in stroke.

Scientists have long sought to find a means of controlling the excitation pulses in what are referred to as excitable media—either to suppress or to accelerate them. Or even to generate completely new spatio-temporal patterns that alter the impact of the pulses on their surroundings.

This time, the German team has performed the first systematic theoretical analysis of the influence of a specific kind of spatial interaction on the propagation of excitation pulses. Specifically, they focused on a kind of interaction that is attractive for small distances and repulsive for large distances. This characteristic mirrors interacting neurons in the cortex. Indeed, they combine excitatory coupling of neighbouring cells with long-range interactions of distant cells inhibiting the electric pulse propagation, previously demonstrated by neuroscientists.

In this study, the authors found, for the first time, that such non-local couplings can produce a rich variety of spatio-temporal patterns. These include acceleration, deceleration, and suppression of propagating pulses, and multiple pulses and blinking traveling waves. They also show that the response all depends on the type of parameters in the short- and long-range coupling.

C. Bachmair and E. Schöll (2014), Nonlocal control of pulse propagation in excitable media, European Physical Journal B, DOI: 10.1140/epjb/e2014-50339-2

This was our first experience of publishing with EPJ Web of Conferences. We contacted the publisher in the middle of September, just one month prior to the Conference, but everything went through smoothly. We have had published MNPS Proceedings with different publishers in the past, and would like to tell that the EPJ Web of Conferences team was probably the best, very quick, helpful and interactive. Typically, we were getting responses from EPJ Web of Conferences team within less than an hour and have had help at every production stage.
We are very thankful to Solange Guenot, Web of Conferences Publishing Editor, and Isabelle Houlbert, Web of Conferences Production Editor, for their support. These ladies are top-level professionals, who made a great contribution to the success of this issue. We are fully satisfied with the publication of the Conference Proceedings and are looking forward to further cooperation. The publication was very fast, easy and of high quality. My colleagues and I strongly recommend EPJ Web of Conferences to anyone, who is interested in quick high-quality publication of conference proceedings.

On behalf of the Organizing and Program Committees and Editorial Team of MNPS-2019, Dr. Alexey B. Nadykto, Moscow State Technological University “STANKIN”, Moscow, Russia. EPJ Web of Conferences vol. 224 (2019)

ISSN: 2100-014X (Electronic Edition)

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