Relaxation oscillator and core conductor models are needed for understanding of GI electrical activities
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This review examines the applicability of modeling of intestinal electrical activities (slow waves or pacesetter potentials) by coupled relaxation oscillator models, in comparison to a "multidimensional model" based on core conductor theory. We briefly review the relaxation oscillator model and correct some misunderstandings. We point out that new insights about the role of networks of interstitial cells of Cajal in intestinal pacemaking require reconsideration of the mechanisms producing oscillations, the coupling between oscillators, and how the oscillator network is coupled to the driven cells. Recent advances in relaxation oscillator models allow the production of pacemaking pacemaking activity, which can be selectively varied as to waveform, frequency, and occurrence of silent periods. Core conductor models do not produce pacemaking activity or permit this flexibility. We point out that many of the criticisms leveled against relaxation oscillator models relate to studies made in simplified in vitro systems constrained by extensive dissection. Such systems do not adequately reflect the in vivo systems. We conclude that a full understanding of control of electrical (and mechanical) events in the gastrointestinal tract requires that better understanding of relaxation oscillator models growing out of recent research be combined with improved applications of core conductor theory to multidimensional models.
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