One important goal of neuroscience is to understand the fundamental principles that shape the developing brain. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to characterize the interactions between sensorimotor behavior, self-organization, and genetically programmed mechanisms of brain development. This interplay between intrinsic and experience-dependent factors is most dynamic during early life, at a time of explosive increase in the numbers and complexity of neural connections. It is precisely this increase in neural capacity that makes possible the rich repertoire of behavior associated with functional maturity. My primary interest is to understand how sensorimotor experience in early life influences — for better or worse — the formation and maturation of functional neural circuits in the cerebral cortex. My collaborators and I believe that our studies are providing insight into the nature of normal brain development and the consequences of disrupting the partnership between intrinsic developmental mechanisms and early sensorimotor experience.