There is evidence that physiological signals under healthy conditions may have a fractal temporal structure. Here we investigate the possibility that time series generated by certain physiological control systems may be members of a special class of complex processes, termed multifractal, which require a large number of exponents to characterize their scaling properties. We report on evidence for multifractality in a biological dynamical system, the healthy human heartbeat, and show that the multifractal character and nonlinear properties of the healthy heart rate are encoded in the Fourier phases. We uncover a loss of multifractality for a life-threatening condition, congestive heart failure.
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