Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 68, Issue 5, pp 409–419 | Cite as

Presynaptic and postsynaptic competition in models for the development of neuromuscular connections

  • Carl E. Rasmussen
  • David J. Willshaw


In the establishment of connections between nerve and muscle there is an initial stage when each muscle fibre is innervated by several different motor axons. Withdrawal of connections then takes place until each fibre has contact from just a single axon. The evidence suggests that the withdrawal process involves competition between nerve terminals. We examine in formal models several types of competitive mechanism that have been proposed for this phenomenon. We show that a model which combines competition for a presynaptic resource with competition for a postsynaptic resource is superior to others. This model accounts for many anatomical and physiological findings and has a biologically plausible implementation. Intrinsic withdrawal appears to be a side effect of the competitive mechanism rather than a separate non-competitive feature. The model's capabilities are confirmed by theoretical analysis and full scale computer simulations.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl E. Rasmussen
    • 1
  • David J. Willshaw
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Cognitive ScienceUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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