Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Neuroscience Institute

First Advisor

Andrey Shilnikov

Second Advisor

Igor Belykh

Third Advisor

Mukesh Dhamala

Fourth Advisor

Yaroslav I. Molkov


We study complex behaviors arising in neuroscience and other nonlinear systems by combining dynamical systems analysis with modern computational approaches including GPU parallelization and unsupervised machine learning. To gain insights into the behaviors of brain networks and complex central pattern generators (CPGs), it is important to understand the dynamical principles regulating individual neurons as well as the basic structural and functional building blocks of neural networks. In the first section, we discuss how symbolic methods can help us analyze neural dynamics such as bursting, tonic spiking and chaotic mixed-mode oscillations in various models of individual neurons, the bifurcations that underlie transitions between activity types, as well as emergent network phenomena through synergistic interactions seen in realistic neural circuits, such as network bursting from non-intrinsic bursters. The second section is focused on the origin and coexistence of multistable rhythms in oscillatory neural networks of inhibitory coupled cells. We discuss how network connectivity and intrinsic properties of the cells affect the dynamics, and how even simple circuits can exhibit a variety of mono/multi-stable rhythms including pacemakers, half-center oscillators, multiple traveling-waves, fully synchronous states, as well as various chimeras. Our analyses can help generate verifiable hypotheses for neurophysiological experiments on central pattern generators. In the last section, we demonstrate the inter-disciplinary nature of this research through the applications of these techniques to identify the universal principles governing both simple and complex dynamics, and chaotic structure in diverse nonlinear systems. Using a classical example from nonlinear laser optics, we elaborate on the multiplicity and self-similarity of key organizing structures in 2D parameter space such as homoclinic and heteroclinic bifurcation curves, Bykov T-point spirals, and inclination flips. This is followed by detailed computational reconstructions of the spatial organization and 3D embedding of bifurcation surfaces, parametric saddles, and isolated closed curves (isolas). The generality of our modeling approaches could lead to novel methodologies and nonlinear science applications in biological, medical and engineering systems.


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