The development of the nervous system involves in many cases interactions on a local scale rather than the execution of a fully specified genetic blueprint. The problem is to discover the nature of these interactions and the factors on which they depend.
The withdrawal of polyinnervation in developing muscle is an example where such competitive interactions play an important role. We examine the possible types of competition in formal models that have plausible biological implementations. By relating the behaviour of the models to the anatomical and physiological findings we show that a model that incorporates two types of competition is superior to others. Analysis suggests that the phenomenon of intrinsic withdrawal is a side effect of the competitive mechanisms rather than a separate non-competitive feature. Full scale computer simulations have been used to confirm the capabilities of this model.