Experimental control of scaling behavior: what is not fractal?

Aaron D. Likens, Justin Fine, Eric Amazeen, Polemnia Amazeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The list of psychological processes thought to exhibit fractal behavior is growing. Although some might argue that the seeming ubiquity of fractal patterns illustrates their significance, unchecked growth of that list jeopardizes their relevance. It is important to identify when a single behavior is and is not fractal in order to make meaningful conclusions about the processes underlying those patterns. The hypothesis tested in the present experiment is that fractal patterns reflect the enactment of control. Participants performed two steering tasks: steering on a straight track and steering on a circular track. Although each task could be accomplished by holding the steering wheel at a constant angle, steering around a curve may require more constant control, at least from a psychological standpoint. Results showed that evidence for fractal behavior was strongest for the circular track; straight tracks showed evidence of two scaling regions. We argue from those results that, going forward, the goal of the fractal literature should be to bring scaling behavior under experimental control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2813-2821
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 26 2015


  • Control processes
  • Driving
  • Fractal
  • Steering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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