Transient bursting behaviour of excitable cells, such as neurons, is a common feature observed experimentally, but theoretically, it is not well understood. We analyse a five-dimensional simplified model of after-depolarisation that exhibits transient bursting behaviour when perturbed with a short current injection. Using one-parameter continuation of the perturbed orbit segment formulated as a well-posed boundary value problem, we show that the spike-adding mechanism is a canard-like transition that has a different character from known mechanisms for periodic burst solutions. The biophysical basis of the model gives a natural time-scale separation, which allows us to explain the spike-adding mechanism using geometric singular perturbation theory, but it does not involve actual bifurcations as for periodic bursts. We show that unstable sheets of the critical manifold, formed by saddle equilibria of the system that only exist in a singular limit, are responsible for the spike-adding transition; the transition is organised by the slow flow on the critical manifold near folds of this manifold. Our analysis shows that the orbit segment during the spike-adding transition includes a fast transition between two unstable sheets of the slow manifold that are of saddle type. We also discuss a different parameter regime where the presence of additional saddle equilibria of the full system alters the spike-adding mechanism.
- burst spike adding transient behaviour dynamical systems geometric singular perturbation theory