Non-random fluctuations and multi-scale dynamics regulation of human activity

Kun Hu, Plamen Ch Ivanov, Zhi Chen, Michael F. Hilton, H. Eugene Stanley, Steven A. Shea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


We investigate if known extrinsic and intrinsic factors fully account for the complex features observed in recordings of human activity as measured from forearm motion in subjects undergoing their regular daily routine. We demonstrate that the apparently random forearm motion possesses dynamic patterns characterized by robust scale-invariant and nonlinear features. These patterns remain stable from one subject to another and are unaffected by changes in the average activity level that occur within individual subjects throughout the day and on different days of the week, since they persist during daily routine and when the same subjects undergo time-isolation laboratory experiments designed to account for the circadian phase and to control the known extrinsic factors. Further, by modeling the scheduled events imposed throughout the laboratory protocols, we demonstrate that they cannot account for the observed scaling patterns in activity fluctuations. We attribute these patterns to a previously unrecognized intrinsic nonlinear multi-scale control mechanism of human activity that is independent of known extrinsic factors such as random and scheduled events, as well as the known intrinsic factors which possess a single characteristic time scale such as circadian and ultradian rhythms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-318
Number of pages12
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Activity
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Fractal
  • Multi-scale regulation
  • Self-similar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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