Modelling the heart as a communication system

Hiroshi Ashikaga, José Aguilar-Rodríguez, Shai Gorsky, Elizabeth Lusczek, Flávia Maria Darcie Marquitti, Brian Thompson, Degang Wu, Joshua Garland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Electrical communication between cardiomyocytes can be perturbed during arrhythmia, but these perturbations are not captured by conventional electrocardiographic metrics. We developed a theoretical framework to quantify electrical communication using information theory metrics in two-dimensional cell lattice models of cardiac excitation propagation. The time series generated by each cell was coarse-grained to 1 when excited or 0 when resting. The Shannon entropy for each cell was calculated from the time series during four clinically important heart rhythms: normal heartbeat, anatomical reentry, spiral reentry and multiple reentry. We also used mutual information to perform spatial profiling of communication during these cardiac arrhythmias. We found that information sharing between cells was spatially heterogeneous. In addition, cardiac arrhythmia significantly impacted information sharing within the heart. Entropy localized the path of the drifting core of spiral reentry, which could be an optimal target of therapeutic ablation.We conclude that information theory metrics can quantitatively assess electrical communication among cardiomyocytes. The traditional concept of the heart as a functional syncytium sharing electrical information cannot predict altered entropy and information sharing during complex arrhythmia. Information theory metrics may find clinical application in the identification of rhythm-specific treatments which are currently unmet by traditional electrocardiographic techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20141201
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number105
StatePublished - Apr 6 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Cardiac electrophysiology
  • Information theory
  • Mathematical modelling


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