Multiple Geometric Viewpoints of Mixed Mode Dynamics Associated with Pseudo-plateau Bursting

Theodore Vo, Richard Bertram, Martin Wechselberger

Pseudo-plateau bursting is a type of oscillatory waveform associated with mixed mode dynamics in slow/fast systems and commonly found in neural bursting models. In a recent model for the electrical activity and calcium signaling in a pituitary lactotroph, two types of pseudo-plateau bursts were discovered: one in which the calcium drives the bursts and another in which the calcium simply follows them. Multiple methods from dynamical systems theory have been used to understand the bursting. The classic 2-timescale approach treats the calcium concentration as a slowly varying parameter and considers a parametrized family of fast subsystems. A more novel and successful 2-timescale approach divides the system so that there is only one fast variable and shows that the bursting arises from canard dynamics. Both methods can be effective analytic tools, but there has been little justification for one approach over the other. In this work, we use the lactotroph model to demonstrate that the two analysis techniques are different unfoldings of a 3-timescale system. We show that elementary applications of geometric singular perturbation theory in the 2-timescale and 3-timescale methods provide us with substantial predictive power. We use that predictive power to explain the transient and long-term dynamics of the pituitary lactotroph model.