Application of chaos theory to biology and medicine

James E. Skinner, M. Molnár, Tomas Vybiral, Mirna Mitra

Research output: Article

81 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The application of "chaos theory" to the physical and chemical sciences has resolved some long-standing problems, such as how to calculate a turbulent event in fluid dynamics or how to quantify the pathway of a molecule during Brownian motion. Biology and medicine also have unresolved problems, such as how to predict the occurrence of lethal arrhythmias or epileptic seizures. The quantification of a chaotic system, such as the nervous system, can occur by calculating the correlation dimension (D2) of a sample of the data that the system generates. For biological systems, the point correlation dimension (PD2) has an advantage in that it does not presume stationarity of the data, as the D2 algorithm must, and thus can track the transient non-stationarities that occur when the systems changes state. Such non-stationarities arise during normal functioning (e.g., during an event-related potential) or in pathology (e.g., in epilepsy or cardiac arrhythmogenesis). When stochastic analyses, such as the standard deviation or power spectrum, are performed on the same data they often have a reduced sensitivity and specifity compared to the dimensional measures. For example, a reduced standard deviation of heartbeat intervals can predict increased mortality in a group of cardiac subjects, each of which has a reduced standard deviation, but it cannot specify which individuals will or will not manifest lethal arrhythmogenesis; in contrast, the PD2 of the very same data can specify which patients will manifest sudden death. The explanation for the greater sensitivity and specificity of the dimensional measures is that they are deterministic, and thus are more accurate in quantifying the time-series. This accuracy appears to be significant in detecting pathology in biological systems, and thus the use of deterministic measures may lead to breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of some medical disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-53
Number of pages15
JournalIntegrative Physiological and Behavioral Science
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - jan. 1992

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Nonlinear Dynamics
Pathology
Biological systems
chaos
Chaos theory
Medicine
biology
Epilepsy
medicine
Natural Science Disciplines
Chaotic systems
Brownian movement
Neurology
Hydrodynamics
Sudden Death
Fluid dynamics
Power spectrum
Evoked Potentials
Information Systems
Nervous System

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Application of chaos theory to biology and medicine. / Skinner, James E.; Molnár, M.; Vybiral, Tomas; Mitra, Mirna.

In: Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science, Vol. 27, No. 1, 01.1992, p. 39-53.

Research output: Article

Skinner, James E. ; Molnár, M. ; Vybiral, Tomas ; Mitra, Mirna. / Application of chaos theory to biology and medicine. In: Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science. 1992 ; Vol. 27, No. 1. pp. 39-53.
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