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Heteroclinic networks for brain dynamics

Heteroclinic networks are a mathematical concept in dynamic systems theory that is suited to describe metastable states and switching events in brain dynamics. The framework is sensitive to external input and, at the same time, reproducible and robust against perturbations. Solutions of the corresponding differential equations are spatiotemporal patterns that are supposed to encode information both in space and time coordinates.

We focus on the concept of winnerless competition as realized in generalized Lotka–Volterra equations and report on results for binding and chunking dynamics, synchronization on spatial grids, and entrainment to heteroclinic motion.

We summarize proposals of how to design heteroclinic networks as desired in view of reproducing experimental observations from neuronal networks and discuss the subtle role of noise.

The review is on a phenomenological level with possible applications to brain dynamics, while we refer to the literature for a rigorous mathematical treatment. We conclude with promising perspectives for future research.

H. Meyer-Ortmanns, Heteroclinic networks for brain dynamics, Front. Netw. Physiol. 3 (2023) 1276401, DOI: 10.3389/fnetp.2023.1276401.

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