N. F. Otani, Computer Modeling in Cardiac Electrophysiology, Journal of Computational Physics 161, 21-34 (2000).


The skills of a computational physicist are shown to be useful in the seemingly distant field of cardiac electrophysiology. The propagation of cardiac action potentials and their ability to form spiral waves are easily understood at a basic level when standard concepts from the theory of partial differential equations are applied. Certain types of local behavior in cardiac cells may be characterized in terms of familiar ideas from nonlinear dynamics. The design of computer simulations of action potential propagation is facilitated by adapting numerical concepts routinely applied by computational physicists. These concepts must be modified and combined with computer structures standard in computer science to handle the timescale and spatial scale problems unique to the action potential propagation problem. The resulting simulation shows how details of ion channel dynamics leads to modification of the wavefront in regions of wavefront curvature and complex dynamics in spiral wave core regions.