Slow Passage Through a Hopf Bifurcation in Excitable Nerve Cables: Spatial Delays and Spatial Memory Effects

L. M. Bilinsky, Steven Baer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


It is well established that in problems featuring slow passage through a Hopf bifurcation (dynamic Hopf bifurcation) the transition to large-amplitude oscillations may not occur until the slowly changing parameter considerably exceeds the value predicted from the static Hopf bifurcation analysis (temporal delay effect), with the length of the delay depending upon the initial value of the slowly changing parameter (temporal memory effect). In this paper we introduce new delay and memory effect phenomena using both analytic (WKB method) and numerical methods. We present a reaction–diffusion system for which slowly ramping a stimulus parameter (injected current) through a Hopf bifurcation elicits large-amplitude oscillations confined to a location a significant distance from the injection site (spatial delay effect). Furthermore, if the initial current value changes, this location may change (spatial memory effect). Our reaction–diffusion system is Baer and Rinzel’s continuum model of a spiny dendritic cable; this system consists of a passive dendritic cable weakly coupled to excitable dendritic spines. We compare results for this system with those for nerve cable models in which there is stronger coupling between the reactive and diffusive portions of the system. Finally, we show mathematically that Hodgkin and Huxley were correct in their assertion that for a sufficiently slow current ramp and a sufficiently large cable length, no value of injected current would cause their model of an excitable cable to fire; we call this phenomenon “complete accommodation.”

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalBulletin of Mathematical Biology
StateAccepted/In press - Nov 17 2017


  • Delayed bifurcation
  • FitzHugh–Nagumo
  • Hodgkin–Huxley
  • Hopf bifurcation
  • Reaction–diffusion
  • WKB

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Immunology
  • General Mathematics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Environmental Science
  • Pharmacology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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