The characterization of spatiotemporal complexity remains a challenging task. This holds in particular for the analysis of data from fluorescence imaging (optical mapping), which allows for the measurement of membrane potential and intracellular calcium at high spatial and temporal resolutions and, therefore, allows for an investigation of cardiac dynamics. Dominant frequency maps and the analysis of phase singularities are frequently used for this type of excitable media. These methods address some important aspects of cardiac dynamics; however, they only consider very specific properties of excitable media. To extend the scope of the analysis, we present a measure based on entropy rates for determining spatiotemporal complexity patterns of excitable media. Simulated data generated by the Aliev–Panfilov model and the cubic Barkley model are used to validate this method. Then, we apply it to optical mapping data from monolayers of cardiac cells from chicken embryos and compare our findings with dominant frequency maps and the analysis of phase singularities. The studies indicate that entropy rate maps provide additional information about local complexity, the origins of wave breakup and the development of patterns governing unstable wave propagation.
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