Biological interpretations of the biphasic model of ontogenetic brain-body allometry: A reply to Packard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Allometry is a description of organismal growth. Historically, a simple power law has been used most widely to describe the rate of growth in phenotypic traits relative to the rate of growth in overall size. However, the validity of this standard practice has repeatedly been criticized. In an accompanying opinion piece, Packard reanalysed data from a recent study on brain-body ontogenetic allometry and claimed that the biphasic growth model suggested in that study was an artefact of logarithmic transformation. Based on the model selection, Packard proposed alternative hypotheses for brain-body ontogenetic allometry. Here, I examine the validity of these models by comparing empirical data on body sizes at two critical neurodevelopmental events in mammals, i.e. at birth and at the time of the peak rate of brain growth, with statistically inferred body sizes that are supposed to characterize neurodevelopmental processes. These analyses support the existence of two distinct phases of brain growth and provide weak support for Packard's uniphasic model of brain growth. This study demonstrates the importance of considering alternative models in studies of allometry, but also highlights that such models need to respect the biological theoretical context of allometry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1068-1075
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Bioinformatics (Computational Biology)
  • Bioinformatics and Systems Biology


  • brain size evolution
  • developmental constraints
  • measurement theory


Dive into the research topics of 'Biological interpretations of the biphasic model of ontogenetic brain-body allometry: A reply to Packard'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this