We present a technique for the analysis of pattern formation by a class of models for the formation of ocular dominance stripes in the striate cortex of some mammals. The method, which employs the adiabatic approximation to derive a set of ordinary differential equations for patterning modes, has been successfully applied to reaction-diffusion models for striped patterns . Models of ocular dominance stripes have been studied [2,3] by computation, or by linearization of the model equations. These techniques do not provide a rationale for the origin of the stripes. We show here that stripe formation is a non-linear property of the models. Our analysis indicates that stripe selection is closely linked to a property in the dynamics of the models which arises from a symmetry between ipsilateral and contralateral synapses to the visual cortex of a given hemisphere.