Decrease in scale invariance of activity fluctuations with aging and in patients with suprasellar tumors

<p>Motor activity in healthy young humans displays intrinsic fluctuations that are scale-invariant over a wide range of time scales (from minutes to hours). Human postmortem and animal lesion studies showed that the intact function of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is required to maintain such scale-invariant patterns. We therefore hypothesized that scale invariance is degraded in patients treated for suprasellar tumors that compress the SCN. To test the hypothesis, we investigated 68 patients with nonfunctioning pituitary macroadenoma and 22 patients with craniopharyngioma, as well as 72 age-matched healthy controls (age range 21.0–70.6 years). Spontaneous wrist locomotor activity was measured for 7 days with actigraphy, and detrended fluctuation analysis was applied to assess correlations over a range of time scales from minutes to 24 h. For all the subjects, complex scale-invariant correlations were only present for time scales smaller than 1.5 h, and became more random at time scales 1.5–10 h. Patients with suprasellar tumors showed a larger decrease in correlations at 1.5–10 h as compared to healthy controls. Within healthy subject, gender and age >33 year were associated with attenuated scale invariance. Conversely, activity patterns at time scales between 10 and 24 h were significantly more regular than all other time scales, and this was mostly associated with age.</p> <p>In conclusion, scale invariance is degraded in healthy subjects at the ages of >33 year as characterized by attenuation of correlations at time scales 1.5–10 h. In addition, scale invariance was more degraded in patients with suprasellar tumors as compared to healthy subjects.</p>