Rhythms from Two Competing Periodic Sources Embedded in an Excitable Medium


In an excitable medium, a stimulus generates a wave that propagates in space until it reaches the boundary or collides with another wave and annihilates. We study the dynamics generated by two periodic sources with different frequencies in excitable cardiac tissue culture using optogenetic techniques. The observed rhythms, which can be modeled using cellular automata and studied analytically, show unexpected regularities related to classic results in number theory. We apply the results to identify cardiac arrhythmias in people that are due to a putative mechanism of two competing pacemakers.

Physical Review Letters