Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neuroscience and BioMed Central.

This article is part of the supplement: Sixteenth Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2007

Open Access Poster presentation

Stochastic synchrony of neuronal oscillators: a Fokker-Planck study with the finite-element method

Roberto F Galán12*, G Bard Ermentrout23 and Nathaniel N Urban12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA

2 Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Mellon Institute, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA

3 Department of Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neuroscience 2007, 8(Suppl 2):P57  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-8-S2-P57

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:


Published:6 July 2007

© 2007 Galán et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Poster presentation

The interest in stochastic processes has increased remarkably in the last few years, in part motivated by the investigation of the constructive role of noise in many biological systems. A quantitative description of these phenomena often requires the solution of complicated Fokker-Planck equations (FPE). Here, we apply an efficient approach from computational engineering, the finite-element method, to numerically solve the Fokker-Planck equation in two dimensions. This approach permits us to find the solution to complicated stochastic problems. We illustrate our method by studying the stochastic synchronization of neuronal oscillators, a phenomenon that has attracted considerable attention in neuroscience recently. In particular, we show that resonators (type II neural oscillators) respond and synchronize more reliably when provided correlated stochastic inputs than do integrators (type I neural oscillators). This result is consistent with recent experimental and computational work.