Interaction between the progression of Alzheimer's disease and fractal degradation

Peng Li, Lei Yu, Jingyun Yang, Men Tzung Lo, Chelsea Hu, Aron S. Buchman, David A. Bennett, Kun Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Many outputs from healthy neurophysiological systems including motor activity display nonrandom fluctuations with fractal scaling behavior as characterized by similar temporal fluctuation patterns across a range of time scales. Degraded fractal regulation predicts adverse consequences including Alzheimer's dementia. We examined longitudinal changes in the scaling behavior of motor activity fluctuations during the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in 1068 participants in the Rush Memory and Aging Project. Motor activity of up to 10 days was recorded annually for up to 13 years. Cognitive assessments and clinical diagnoses were administered annually in the same participants. We found that fractal regulation gradually degraded over time (p < 0.0001) even during the stage with no cognitive impairment. The degradation rate was more than doubled after the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment and more than doubled further after the diagnosis of Alzheimer's dementia (p's ≤ 0.0005). Besides, the longitudinal degradation of fractal regulation significantly correlated with the decline in cognitive performance throughout the progression from no cognitive impairment to mild cognitive impairment, and to AD (p < 0.001). All effects remained the same in subsequent sensitivity analyses that included only 255 decedents with autopsy-confirmed Alzheimer's pathology. These results indicate that the progression of AD accelerates fractal degradation and that fractal degradation may be an integral part of the process of AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Cognitive impairment
  • Fractal regulation
  • Longitudinal study
  • Motor activity
  • Pathological aging


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