Using temporal correlations and full distributions to separate intrinsic and extrinsic fluctuations in biological systems.

Date Published:

2012 Dec 14


Studies of stochastic biological dynamics typically compare observed fluctuations to theoretically predicted variances, sometimes after separating the intrinsic randomness of the system from the enslaving influence of changing environments. But variances have been shown to discriminate surprisingly poorly between alternative mechanisms, while for other system properties no approaches exist that rigorously disentangle environmental influences from intrinsic effects. Here, we apply the theory of generalized random walks in random environments to derive exact rules for decomposing time series and higher statistics, rather than just variances. We show for which properties and for which classes of systems intrinsic fluctuations can be analyzed without accounting for extrinsic stochasticity and vice versa. We derive two independent experimental methods to measure the separate noise contributions and show how to use the additional information in temporal correlations to detect multiplicative effects in dynamical systems.

Last updated on 11/21/2018