The role of axonal delay in the synchronization of networks of coupled cortical oscillators

Sharon Crook, G. B. Ermentrout, M. C. Vanier, J. M. Bower

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90 Scopus citations


Coupled oscillator models use a single phase variable to approximate the voltage oscillation of each neuron during repetitive firing where the behavior of the model depends on the connectivity and the interaction function chosen to describe the coupling. We introduce a network model consisting of a continuum of these oscillators that includes the effects of spatially decaying coupling and axonal delay. We derive equations for determining the stability of solutions and analyze the network behavior for two different interaction functions. The first is a sine function, and the second is derived from a compartmental model of a pyramidal cell. In both cases, the system of coupled neural oscillators can undergo a bifurcation from synchronous oscillations to waves. The change in qualitative behavior is due to the axonal delay, which causes distant connections to encourage a phase shift between cells. We suggest that this mechanism could contribute to the behavior observed in several neurobiological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-172
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Computational Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes



  • Axonal delay
  • Cortical oscillators
  • Coupled oscillators
  • Phase
  • Synchrony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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