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An oscillatory heterogeneous excitable medium undergoes a transition from periodic target patterns to a bursting rhythm driven by the spontaneous initiation and termination of spiral waves as coupling or density is reduced. We illustrate these phenomena in monolayers of chick embryonic heart cells using calcium-sensitive fluorescent dyes. These results are modeled in a heterogeneous cellular automaton in which the neighborhood of interaction and cell density is modified. Parameters that give rise to bursting rhythms are organized in distinct zones in parameter space, leading to a global organization that should be applicable to the dynamics in a large class of excitable media.

Original publication




Journal article


Phys Rev Lett

Publication Date





Animals, Biological Clocks, Cells, Cultured, Chick Embryo, Computer Simulation, Heart Conduction System, Humans, Models, Cardiovascular, Models, Neurological, Myocytes, Cardiac