Synchronization-based reconstruction of electromechanical wave dynamics in elastic excitable media


The heart is an elastic excitable medium, in which mechanical contraction is triggered by nonlinear waves of electrical excitation, which diffuse rapidly through the heart tissue and subsequently activate the cardiac muscle cells to contract. These highly dynamic excitation wave phenomena have yet to be fully observed within the depths of the heart muscle, as imaging technology is unable to penetrate the tissue and provide panoramic, three-dimensional visualizations necessary for adequate study. As a result, the electrophysiological mechanisms that are associated with the onset and progression of severe heart rhythm disorders such as atrial or ventricular fibrillation remain insufficiently understood. Here, we present a novel synchronization-based data assimilation approach with which it is possible to reconstruct excitation wave dynamics within the volume of elastic excitable media by observing spatiotemporal deformation patterns, which occur in response to excitation. The mechanical data are assimilated in a numerical replication of the measured elastic excitable system, and within this replication, the data drive the intrinsic excitable dynamics, which then coevolve and correspond to a reconstruction of the original dynamics. We provide a numerical proof-of-principle and demonstrate the performance of the approach by recovering even complicated three-dimensional scroll wave patterns, including vortex filaments of electrical excitation from within a deformable bulk tissue with fiber anisotropy. In the future, the reconstruction approach could be combined with high-speed imaging of the heart’s mechanical contractions to estimate its electrophysiological activity for diagnostic purposes.

Chaos 29: 093117