Fractals in biology and medicine

Chaos Solitons Fractals. 1995;6:171-201. doi: 10.1016/0960-0779(95)80025-c.


Our purpose is to describe some recent progress in applying fractal concepts to systems of relevance to biology and medicine. We review several biological systems characterized by fractal geometry, with a particular focus on the long-range power-law correlations found recently in DNA sequences containing noncoding material. Furthermore, we discuss the finding that the exponent alpha quantifying these long-range correlations ("fractal complexity") is smaller for coding than for noncoding sequences. We also discuss the application of fractal scaling analysis to the dynamics of heartbeat regulation, and report the recent finding that the normal heart is characterized by long-range "anticorrelations" which are absent in the diseased heart.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Biology*
  • Fractals*
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Medicine*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Music
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA