Synchronization of oscillations is a phenomenon prevalent in natural, social, and engineering systems. Controlling synchronization of oscillating systems is motivated by a wide range of applications from surgical treatment of neurological diseases to the design of neurocomputers. In this paper, we study the control of an ensemble of uncoupled neuron oscillators described by phase models. We examine controllability of such a neuron ensemble for various phase models and, furthermore, study the related optimal control problems. In particular, by employing Pontryagin's maximum principle, we analytically derive optimal controls for spiking single- and two-neuron systems, and analyze the applicability of the latter to an ensemble system. Finally, we present a robust computational method for optimal control of spiking neurons based on pseudospectral approximations. The methodology developed here is universal to the control of general nonlinear phase oscillators.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6472024
Pages (from-to)1919-1930
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Automatic Control
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2013


  • Controllability
  • Lie algebra
  • Optimal control
  • Pseudospectral methods
  • Spiking neurons


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