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Homoclinic clusters and chaos associated with a folded node in a stellate cell model

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  • Acker et al (J. Comp. Neurosci., 15, pp.71-90, 2003) developed a model of stellate cells which reproduces qualitative oscillatory patterns known as mixed mode oscillations observed in experiments. This model includes different time scales and can therefore be viewed as a singularly perturbed system of differential equations. The bifurcation structure of this model is very rich, and includes a novel class of homoclinic bifurcation points. The key to the bifurcation analysis is a folded node singularity that allows trajectories known as canards to cross from a stable slow manifold to an unstable slow manifold as well as a node equilibrium of the slow flow on the unstable slow manifold. In this work we focus on the novel homoclinic orbits within the bifurcation diagram and show that the return of canards from the unstable slow manifold to the funnel of the folded node on the stable slow manifold results in a horseshoe map, and therefore gives rise to chaotic invariant sets. We also use a one-dimensional map to explain why many homoclinic orbits occur in "clusters'' at exponentially close parameter values.
    Mathematics Subject Classification: Primary: 34D15, 34C26, 34C37; Secondary: 92C20.


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