Similar activity patterns may arise from model neural networks with distinct coupling properties and individual unit dynamics. These similar patterns may, however, respond differently to parameter variations and specifically to tuning of inputs that represent control signals. In this work, we analyze the responses resulting from modulation of a localized input in each of three classes of model neural networks that have been recognized in the literature for their capacity to produce robust three-phase rhythms: coupled fast-slow oscillators, near-heteroclinic oscillators, and threshold-linear networks. Triphasic rhythms, in which each phase consists of a prolonged activation of a corresponding subgroup of neurons followed by a fast transition to another phase, represent a fundamental activity pattern observed across a range of central pattern generators underlying behaviors critical to survival, including respiration, locomotion, and feeding. To perform our analysis, we extend the recently developed local timing response curve (lTRC), which allows us to characterize the timing effects due to perturbations, and we complement our lTRC approach with model-specific dynamical systems analysis. Interestingly, we observe disparate effects of similar perturbations across distinct model classes. Thus, this work provides an analytical framework for studying control of oscillations in nonlinear dynamical systems and may help guide model selection in future efforts to study systems exhibiting triphasic rhythmic activity.

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