Complexity, coordination, and health: Avoiding pitfalls and erroneous interpretations in fractal analyses

Vivien Marmelat, Didier Delignières

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background and Objective. The analysis of fractal fluctuation has become very popular because of the close relationships between health, adaptability, and long-range correlations. 1/f noise is considered a "magical" threshold, characterizing optimal functioning, and a decrease or conversely and increase of serial correlations, with respect to 1/f noise, is supposed to sign a kind of disadaptation of the system. Empirical results, however, should be interpreted with caution. In experimental series, serial correlations often present a complex pattern, resulting from the combination of long-range and short-term correlated processes. We show, in the present paper, that an increase in serial correlations cannot be directly interpreted as an increase in long-range correlations. Material and Methods: Eleven participants performed four walking bouts following 4 individually determined velocities (slow, comfortable, high, and critical). Series of 512 stride intervals were collected under each condition. The strength of serial correlation was measured by the detrended fluctuation analysis. The effective presence of 1/f fluctuation was tested through ARFIMA modeling. Results. The strength of serial correlations tended to increase with walking velocity. However, the ARFIMA modeling showed that long-range correlations were significantly present only at slow and comfortable velocities. Conclusions: The strength of correlations, as measured by classical methods, cannot be considered as predictive of the genuine presence of long-range correlations. Sometimes systems can present the moderate levels of effective long-range correlations, whereas in others cases, series can present high correlation levels without being long-range correlated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-398
Number of pages6
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • 1/f noise
  • Complexity
  • Fractal fluctuations
  • Health
  • Stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Complexity, coordination, and health: Avoiding pitfalls and erroneous interpretations in fractal analyses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this