Experimental observations of the intracellular recorded electrical activity in individual neurons show that the temporal behavior is often chaotic. We discuss both our own observations on a cell from the stom-atogastric central pattern generator of lobster and earlier observations in other cells.
In this paper we work with models of chaotic neurons, building on models by Hindmarsh and Rose for bursting, spiking activity in neurons. The key feature of these simplified models of neurons is the presence of coupled slow and fast subsystems. We analyze the model neurons using the same tools employed in the analysis of our experimental data.
We couple two model neurons both electrotonically and electrochemically in inhibitory and excitatory fashions. In each of these cases, we demonstrate that the model neurons can synchronize in phase and out of phase depending on the strength of the coupling. For normal synaptic coupling, we have a time delay between the action of one neuron and the response of the other. We also analyze how the synchronization depends on this delay. A rich spectrum of synchronized behaviors is possible for electrically coupled neurons and for inhibitory coupling between neurons. In synchronous neurons one typically sees chaotic motion of the coupled neurons. Excitatory coupling produces essentially periodic voltage trajectories, which are also synchronized. We display and discuss these synchronized behaviors using two “distance” measures of the synchronization.