Luís A. Nunes Amaral

co-Director, Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems
Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering
Professor of Physics & Astronomy (by courtesy)
Professor of Medicine (by courtesy)

Chemical & Biological Engineering
2145 Sheridan Road (Room E136)
EvanstonIL 60208US
Phone: (847) 491-7850


There is evidence that physiological signals under healthy conditions may have a fractal temporal structure(1). 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(2-6). 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.