Theory of collective firing induced by noise or diversity in excitable media
C. J. Tessone, A. Scirè, R. Toral, and P. Colet -->
Institut Mediterrani d'Estudis Avançats, IMEDEA (CSIC-UIB), Campus Universitat Illes Balears, E-07122 Palma de Mallorca, Spain
(Received 20 June 2006; published 9 January 2007)
Large variety of physical, chemical, and biological systems show excitable behavior, characterized by a nonlinear response under external perturbations: only perturbations exceeding a threshold induce a full system response (firing). It has been reported that in coupled excitable identical systems noise may induce the simultaneous firing of a macroscopic fraction of units. However, a comprehensive understanding of the role of noise and that of natural diversity present in realistic systems is still lacking. Here we develop a theory for the emergence of collective firings in nonidentical excitable systems subject to noise. Three different dynamical regimes arise: subthreshold motion, where all elements remain confined near the fixed point; coherent pulsations, where a macroscopic fraction fire simultaneously; and incoherent pulsations, where units fire in a disordered fashion. We also show that the mechanism for collective firing is generic: it arises from degradation of entrainment originated either by noise or by diversity.