Coupled oscillators: Complex but not complicated cardiovascular and brain interactions

  • Stefanovska A
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The cardiovascular system (CVS) is complex and spatially distributed. The many connections between the system’s components enable efficient regulation of blood flow through a closed system of vessels. How do we approach the understanding of this complex system? Basically, there are two ways: a microscopic and a macroscopic approach. In the microscopic approach, one tries to analyze the function of each part of the system in great detail. The macroscopic approach, on the other hand, is interested in the collective behavior of all parts. Both approaches are necessary to gain a complete understanding, and the problem is where to start. Microscopic analysis of large complex systems inevitably results in a large system of differential equations. However, there are cases when a system that looks very complicated on the microscopic level exhibits rather simple macroscopic behavior [1], [2]. We show that the CVS is an example of such system. In the next section, we introduce the coupled nonlinear oscillators approach, the framework that we use for our studies of cardiovascular and brain oscillations.

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