Long-range correlations and fractal dynamics in C. elegans: Changes with aging and stress
Reduced motor control is one of the most frequent features associated with aging and disease. Nonlinear and fractal analyses have proved to be useful in investigating human physiological alterations with age and disease. Similar findings have not been established for any of the model organisms typically studied by biologists, though. If the physiology of a simpler model organism displays the same characteristics, this fact would open a new research window on the control mechanisms that organisms use to regulate physiological processes during aging and stress. Here, we use a recently introduced animal-tracking technology to simultaneously follow tens of Caenorhabdits elegans for several hours and use tools from fractal physiology to quantitatively evaluate the effects of aging and temperature stress on nematode motility. Similar to human physiological signals, scaling analysis reveals long-range correlations in numerous motility variables, fractal properties in behavioral shifts, and fluctuation dynamics over a wide range of timescales. These properties change as a result of a superposition of age and stress-related adaptive mechanisms that regulate motility.