Bifurcations in a modulation equation for alternans in a cardiac fiber
While alternans in a single cardiac cell appears through a simple period-doubling bifurcation, in extended tissue the exact nature of the bifurcation is unclear. In particular, the phase of alternans can exhibit wave-like spatial dependence, either stationary or travelling, which is known as discordant alternans. We study these phenomena in simple cardiac models through a modulation equation proposed by Echebarria-Karma. As shown in our previous paper, the zero solution of their equation may lose stability, as the pacing rate is increased, through either a Hopf or steady-state bifurcation. Which bifurcation occurs first depends on parameters in the equation, and for one critical case both modes bifurcate together at a degenerate (codimension 2) bifurcation. For parameters close to the degenerate case, we investigate the competition between modes, both numerically and analytically. We find that at sufficiently rapid pacing (but assuming a 1:1 response is maintained), steady patterns always emerge as the only stable solution. However, in the parameter range where Hopf bifurcation occurs first, the evolution from periodic solution (just after the bifurcation) to the eventual standing wave solution occurs through an interesting series of secondary bifurcations. © 2010 EDP Sciences, SMAI.
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