Cortical spreading depression (SD) is a spreading disruption of ionic homeostasis in the brain during which neurons experience complete and prolonged depolarizations. SD is the basis of migraine aura and is increasingly associated with many other brain pathologies. Here, we study the role of glutamate and NMDA receptor dynamics in the context of an ionic electrodiffusion model. We perform simulations in one (1D) and two (2D) spatial dimension. Our 1D simulations reproduce the “inverted saddle” shape of the extracellular voltage signal for the first time. Our simulations suggest that SD propagation depends on two overlapping mechanisms; one dependent on extracellular glutamate diffusion and NMDA receptors and the other dependent on extracellular potassium diffusion and persistent sodium channel conductance. In 2D simulations, we study the dynamics of spiral waves. We study the properties of the spiral waves in relation to the planar 1D wave, and also compute the energy expenditure associated with the recurrent SD spirals.
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© 2019 Tuttle et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.