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Title: Dynamical systems techniques in the analysis of neural systems
Author: Wedgwood, Kyle
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2013
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As we strive to understand the mechanisms underlying neural computation, mathematical models are increasingly being used as a counterpart to biological experimentation. Alongside building such models, there is a need for mathematical techniques to be developed to examine the often complex behaviour that can arise from even the simplest models. There are now a plethora of mathematical models to describe activity at the single neuron level, ranging from one-dimensional, phenomenological ones, to complex biophysical models with large numbers of state variables. Network models present even more of a challenge, as rich patterns of behaviour can arise due to the coupling alone. We first analyse a planar integrate-and-fire model in a piecewise-linear regime. We advocate using piecewise-linear models as caricatures of nonlinear models, owing to the fact that explicit solutions can be found in the former. Through the use of explicit solutions that are available to us, we categorise the model in terms of its bifurcation structure, noting that the non-smooth dynamics involving the reset mechanism give rise to mathematically interesting behaviour. We highlight the pitfalls in using techniques for smooth dynamical systems in the study of non-smooth models, and show how these can be overcome using non-smooth analysis. Following this, we shift our focus onto the use of phase reduction techniques in the analysis of neural oscillators. We begin by presenting concrete examples showcasing where these techniques fail to capture dynamics of the full system for both deterministic and stochastic forcing. To overcome these failures, we derive new coordinate systems which include some notion of distance from the underlying limit cycle. With these coordinates, we are able to capture the effect of phase space structures away from the limit cycle, and we go on to show how they can be used to explain complex behaviour in typical oscillatory neuron models.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QA 75 Electronic computers. Computer science ; QP351 Neurophysiology and neuropsychology