Neurological disorders such as epileptic seizures are believed to be caused by neuronal synchrony. However, to ascertain the causal role of neuronal synchronization in such diseases through the traditional approach of electrophysiological data analysis remains a controversial, challenging, and outstanding problem. We offer an alternative principle to assess the physiological role of neuronal synchrony based on identifying structural anomalies in the underlying network and studying their impacts on the collective dynamics. In particular, we focus on autapses - time delayed self-feedback links that exist on a small fraction of neurons in the network, and investigate their impacts on network synchronization through a detailed stability analysis. Our main finding is that the proper placement of a small number of autapses in the network can promote synchronization significantly, providing the computational and theoretical bases for hypothesizing a high degree of synchrony in real neuronal networks with autapses. Our result that autapses, the shortest possible links in any network, can effectively modulate the collective dynamics provides also a viable strategy for optimal control of complex network dynamics at minimal cost.
ASJC Scopus subject areas