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On the genesis of spike-wave oscillations in a mean-field model of human thalamic and corticothalamic dynamics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • S Rodrigues
  • JR Terry
  • M Breakspear
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352 - 357
Number of pages6
JournalPhysics Letters A
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2006


In this Letter, the genesis of spike-wave activity—a hallmark of many generalized epileptic seizures—is investigated in a reduced mean-field model of human neural activity. Drawing upon brain modelling and dynamical systems theory, we demonstrate that the thalamic circuitry of the system is crucial for the generation of these abnormal rhythms, observing that the combination of inhibition from reticular nuclei and excitation from the cortical signal, interplay to generate the spike-wave oscillation. The mechanism revealed provides an explanation of why approaches based on linear stability and Heaviside approximations to the activation function have failed to explain the phenomena of spike-wave behaviour in mean-field models. A mathematical understanding of this transition is a crucial step towards relating spiking network models and mean-field approaches to human brain modelling.

Additional information

Publisher: North Holland (Elsevier) Rose publication type: Journal article Additional information: Authors own postprint (ie. final draft post-refereeing) Sponsorship: Leverhulme Trust Theoretical Neuroscience Network

Research areas

  • bifurcation, EEG, epilepsy, mathematical modelling, mean-field, nonlinear systems, spike-wave

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