The legacy of Donald O. Hebb: more than the Hebb Synapse

  title={The legacy of Donald O. Hebb: more than the Hebb Synapse},
  author={Richard E. Brown and P. M. Milner},
  journal={Nature Reviews Neuroscience},
Neuroscientists associate the name of Donald O. Hebb with the Hebbian synapse and the Hebbian learning rule, which underlie connectionist theories and synaptic plasticity, but Hebb's work has also influenced developmental psychology, neuropsychology, perception and the study of emotions, as well as learning and memory. Here, we review the work of Hebb and its lasting influence on neuroscience in honour of the 2004 centenary of his birth. 

Donald O. Hebb's synapse and learning rule: a history and commentary

  • S. Cooper
  • Biology, Psychology
    Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews
  • 2005

Contributions of Yale Neuroscience to Donald O. Hebb’s Organization of Behavior

  • B. Haider
  • Biology
    The Yale journal of biology and medicine
  • 2008
The neuropsychological concepts found in Donald Hebb’s The Organization of Behavior have greatly influenced many aspects of neuroscience research over the last half century, with particular emphasis on the roles of the neurophysiologists John Fulton, J.J. Dusser de Barenne, and Warren McCulloch and the psychologists Donald Marquis and Ernest Hilgard.

Recalling Lashley and reconsolidating Hebb.

The relationship between Hebb and Lashley is discussed, and the parallels between them are discussed, to strengthen the foundations of the field of memory.

Freud's Project and its diagram: anticipating the Hebbian synapse

  • G. Schott
  • Biology
    Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry
  • 2010
The Hebbian synapse is described as ‘The hypothesis that memory is associated with use-dependent synaptic modification’ and ‘the seat of plasticity and change’, where ‘relating specific neural events to the specific processes of learning and memory…’ takes place.

The Hebb Synapse Before Hebb: Theories of Synaptic Function in Learning and Memory Before , With a Discussion of the Long-Lost Synaptic Theory of William McDougall

An overview of some of the theories of the neural basis of learning and memory before Hebb are given and the synaptic theory of William McDougall is described, which appears to have been an idea ahead of its time; so far behind its time that it was completely ignored by his contemporaries.

Donald O. Hebb and the Organization of Behavior: 17 years in the writing

This paper examines Hebb’s early ideas on the neural basis of behavior and attempts to trace the rather arduous series of steps through which he developed these ideas into the book that was published as The Organization of Behavior.

The life and work of Donald Olding Hebb.

The concepts of synaptic plasticity and cell assemblies are introduced to provide a theory of the neurophysiological basis of behaviour to influence all areas of psychology and neuroscience.


Donald Olding Hebb’s lasting influence in psychology and neuroscience stems largely from his influential book, The Organization of Behavior (Hebb 1949a) in which he introduced the concepts of

Neural and Mental Hierarchies

  • G. Wiest
  • Psychology, Biology
    Front. Psychology
  • 2012
This article provides an outline on hierarchical concepts in brain and mind sciences, which contrast with current cognitivistic and non-hierarchical theories in the neurosciences.



A brief history of the Hebbian learning rule.

Hebb included a version of his neural postulate of learning in his MA thesis (1932), which seems to be a translation of Pavlovian conditioning into neural terms, which was adopted by groups interested in programming computers to learn and think and tested by neurophysiologists in their search for the synaptic mechanism of learning.

The mind and Donald O. Hebb.

By rooting behavior in ideas, and ideas in the brain, Hebb laid the groundwork for modern neuroscience and developed computer models of neural networks.

The Hebb legacy.

Donald Olding Hebb (1904-1985) was, during his lifetime, an extraordinarily influential figure for the discipline of psychology. His principled opposition to radical behaviourism and emphasis on

The Impact of the Hebbian Learning Rule on Research in Behavioural Neuroscience

[HEADNOTE]AbstractHebb's principal theoretical propositions, the cell assembly and the nature of synaptic change, were generated at a time when the focus of work in behavioural neuroscience was

The Once and Future Hebb Synapse

The Hebb synapse has become better known than Donald Hebb himself and the opportunity to put recent discoveries in synaptic plasticity into the context of Hebb's research program is given.

The Book of Hebb

Half a century of Hebb

Further exploration of Hebb's ideas is a promising route for translating the accumulating knowledge about the molecular and cellular events underlying synaptic plasticity into a real understanding of learning and memory.

The organization of behaviour revisited.

It is clear from these papers of current research that Donald Hebb's legacy remains rich, multifaceted, and insightful, and his work continues to inspire a growing body of research in both psychology and neuroscience, at both conceptual and empirical levels.