Can active perception generate bistability? Heterogeneous collective dynamics and vascular patterning

Jul 30, 2014·
Katie Bentley
Kyle I. Harrington
Erzsébet Ravasz Regan
· 0 min read
During morphogenesis, biological cells, agents, or robots must collectively coordinate where and when to move. How to solve such complex, spatial problems in a timely manner is fundamental to survival in biological organisms, though temporal regulators are largely unexplored. We take the generation of new blood vessel networks (angiogenesis) as our case study system, where tissues low in oxygen stimulate endothelial cells (ECs) to grow new network branches. This requires ECs to take on heterogeneous states by collectively competing with one another for migratory status via lateral inhibition. We propose here that the traditional “decide then move” perspective of cell behavior in angiogenesis may miss a key temporal regulator as it is too slow to account for the rapid, adaptive assignment of heterogeneous cell states. Here we show that a “move and decide” view may provide a better account. In a study focused on an individual EC in a simulated collective, we find that active perception (sensorimotor feedback) can generate bistability through migration-induced cell shape changes. We further exemplify that when parameters affecting active perception are modulated, bistability is lost in the single cell. As a consequence, active perception can directly modulate collective decision timing.
In Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALIFE 14)