Living systems are spectacular examples of spatiotemporally organized structures. During the development of complex organization there is dynamic equilibrium between the local and global processes acting at the intra- and intercellular levels in multiple space and time scales. Although in modelling studies such spatiotemporal systems can be described by different space–time scales and at many organizational levels, the experimental quantities measured and predictions useful for practical applications are at a macroscopic (coarser or averaged) level/scale; these are limited by the resolution of the measuring method and experimental protocol. In this work, we address whether the spatiotemporal collective dynamics exhibited by a multiscale system can discriminate between, or be borne out by, the coarse-grained and averaged measurements done at different spatial and temporal scales. Using a simple model of a ring of cells, we show that measurements of both spatial and spatiotemporal average behaviour in this multicellular ensemble can mask the variety of collective dynamics observed at other space–time scales, and exhibit completely different behaviours. Such outcomes of measurements can lead to incomplete and incorrect understanding of physiological functions and pathogenesis in multicell ensembles.
Volume 44 | Issue 6
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