Statistical physics and physiology: Monofractal and multifractal approaches

H. E. Stanley*, L. A N Amaral, A. L. Goldberger, S. Havlin, P. Ch Ivanov, C. K. Peng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

331 Scopus citations


Even under healthy, basal conditions, physiologic systems show erratic fluctuations resembling those found in dynamical systems driven away from a single equilibrium state. Do such `nonequilibrium' fluctuations simply reflect the fact that physiologic systems are being constantly perturbed by external and intrinsic noise? Or, do these fluctuations actually contain useful, `hidden' information about the underlying nonequilibrium control mechanisms? We report some recent attempts to understand the dynamics of complex physiologic fluctuations by adapting and extending concepts and methods developed very recently in statistical physics. Specifically, we focus on interbeat interval variability as an important quantity to help elucidate possibly non-homeostatic physiologic variability because (i) the heart rate is under direct neuroautonomic control, (ii) interbeat interval variability is readily measured by noninvasive means, and (iii) analysis of these heart rate dynamics may provide important practical diagnostic and prognostic information not obtainable with current approaches. The analytic tools we discuss may be used on a wider range of physiologic signals. We first review recent progress using two analysis methods - detrended fluctuation analysis and wavelets - sufficient for quantifying monofractal structures. We then describe very recent work that quantifies multifractal features of interbeat interval series, and the discovery that the multifractal structure of healthy subjects is different than that of diseased subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-324
Number of pages16
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1 1999
EventProceedings of the 1999 International Conference on Statistical Physics, Statphys-Calcutta III - Calcutta, India
Duration: Jan 4 1999Jan 9 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


Dive into the research topics of 'Statistical physics and physiology: Monofractal and multifractal approaches'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this