Three Time-Scales In An Extended Bonhoeffer-Van Der Pol Oscillator

P. De Maesschalck, E. Kutafina, N. Popovic*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider an extended three-dimensional Bonhoeffer-van der Pol oscillator which generalises the planar FitzHugh-Nagumo model from mathematical neuroscience, and which was recently studied by Sekikawa et al. (Phys Lett A 374(36):3745-3751, 2010) and by Freire and Gallas (Phys Lett A 375:1097-1103, 2011). Focussing on a parameter regime which has hitherto been neglected, and in which the governing equations evolve on three distinct time-scales, we propose a reduction to a model problem that was formulated by Krupa et al. (J Appl Dyn Syst 7(2):361-420, 2008) as a canonical form for such systems. Based on results previously obtained in Krupa et al. (2008), we characterise completely the mixed-mode dynamics of the resulting three time-scale extended Bonhoeffer-van der Pol oscillator from the point of view of geometric singular perturbation theory, thus complementing the findings reported in Sekikawa et al. (2010). In particular, we specify in detail the mixed-mode patterns that are observed upon variation of a bifurcation parameter which is naturally obtained by combining two of the original parameters in the system, and we derive asymptotic estimates for the corresponding parameter intervals. We thereby also disprove a conjecture of Tu (SIAM J Appl Math 49(2): 331-343, 1989), where it was postulated that no stable periodic orbits of mixed-mode type can be observed in an equivalent extension of the Bonhoeffer-van der Pol equations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955-987
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of dynamics and differential equations
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014


  • Bonhoeffer-van der Pol oscillator
  • Mixed-mode oscillations
  • Canards
  • Geometric singular perturbation theory
  • Blow-up technique
  • R-3


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