Multiscale assessment of the degree of multifractality for physiological time series

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Recent advancements in detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) allow evaluating multifractal coefficients scale-by-scale, a promising approach for assessing the complexity of biomedical signals. The multifractality degree is typically quantified by the singularity spectrum width (W SS), a method that is critically unstable in multiscale applications. Thus, we aim to propose a robust multiscale index of multifractality, compare it with W SS and illustrate its performance on real biosignals. The proposed index is the cumulative function of squared increments between consecutive DFA coefficients at each scale n: α CF (n). We compared it with W SS calculated scale-by-scale considering monofractal/monoscale, monofractal/multiscale, multifractal/monoscale and multifractal/multiscale random processes. The two indices provided qualitatively similar descriptions of multifractality, but α CF (n) differentiated better the multifractal components from artefacts due to crossovers or detrending overfitting. Applied on 24 h heart rate recordings of 14 participants, the singularity spectrum failed to always satisfy the concavity requirement for providing meaningful W SS, while α CF (n) demonstrated a statistically significant heart rate multifractality at night in the scale ranges 16-100 and 256-680 s. Furthermore, α CF (n) did not reject the hypothesis of monofractality at daytime, coherently with previous reports of lower nonlinearity and monoscale multifractality during the day. Thus, α CF (n) appears a robust index of multiscale multifractality that is useful for quantifying complexity alterations of physiological series. This article is part of the theme issue 'Advanced computation in cardiovascular physiology: new challenges and opportunities'.

Original languageItalian
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2212
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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