Chimera states in neuronal networks: A review

Article Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Physics of Life Reviews


Neuronal networks, similar to many other complex systems, self-organize into fascinating emergent states that are not only visually compelling, but also vital for the proper functioning of the brain. Synchronous spatiotemporal patterns, for example, play an important role in neuronal communication and plasticity, and in various cognitive processes. Recent research has shown that the coexistence of coherent and incoherent states, known as chimera states or simply chimeras, is particularly important and characteristic for neuronal systems. Chimeras have also been linked to the Parkinson's disease, epileptic seizures, and even to schizophrenia. The emergence of this unique collective behavior is due to diverse factors that characterize neuronal dynamics and the functioning of the brain in general, including neural bumps and unihemispheric slow-wave sleep in some aquatic mammals. Since their discovery, chimera states have attracted ample attention of researchers that work at the interface of physics and life sciences. We here review contemporary research dedicated to chimeras in neuronal networks, focusing on the relevance of different synaptic connections, and on the effects of different network structures and coupling setups. We also cover the emergence of different types of chimera states, we highlight their relevance in other related physical and biological systems, and we outline promising research directions for the future, including possibilities for experimental verification.

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