It is argued that general mathematical-statistical theorems imply that standard statistical analysis techniques of inter-individual variation are invalid to investigate developmental processes. Developmental processes have to be analyzed at the level of individual subjects, using time series data characterizing the patterns of intra-individual variation. It is shown that standard statistical techniques based on the analysis of inter-individual variation appear to he insensitive to the presence of arbitrary large degrees of inter-individual heterogeneity in the population. An important class of nonlinear epigenetic models of neural growth is described which can explain the occurrence of such heterogeneity in brain structures and behavior. Links with models of developmental instability are discussed. A simulation study based on a chaotic growth model illustrates the invalidity of standard analysis of inter-individual variation, whereas time series analysis of intra-individual variation is able to recover the true state of affairs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Developmental Biology
- Behavioral Neuroscience