Hidden structures of information transport underlying spiral wave dynamics

Hiroshi Ashikaga, Ryan G. James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


A spiral wave is a macroscopic dynamics of excitable media that plays an important role in several distinct systems, including the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, seizures in the brain, and lethal arrhythmia in the heart. Because the spiral wave dynamics can exhibit a wide spectrum of behaviors, its precise quantification can be challenging. Here we present a hybrid geometric and information-theoretic approach to quantifying the spiral wave dynamics. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach by applying it to numerical simulations of a two-dimensional excitable medium with different numbers and spatial patterns of spiral waves. We show that, by defining the information flow over the excitable medium, hidden coherent structures emerge that effectively quantify the information transport underlying the spiral wave dynamics. Most importantly, we find that some coherent structures become more clearly defined over a longer observation period. These findings provide validity with our approach to quantitatively characterize the spiral wave dynamics by focusing on information transport. Our approach is computationally efficient and is applicable to many excitable media of interest in distinct physical, chemical, and biological systems. Our approach could ultimately contribute to an improved therapy of clinical conditions such as seizures and cardiac arrhythmia by identifying potential targets of interventional therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number013106
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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