Donald O. Hebb Cell Biology

Developed Hebb synapse and cell assembly theory

The Story

b. 1904, Chester, Nova Scotia; d. 1985, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Hebb began his adult life intending to be a novelist, and decided that his calling required an understanding of psychology. He received his BA from Dalhousie University, NS in 1925, his MA in psychology from McGill (Montreal, Quebec) and his PhD from Harvard (Boston, MA) in 1936. Hebb spent two decades working with researchers like Penfield and Lashley, culminating in 1949 with the publication of The Organization of Behaviour, a keystone of modern neuroscience. In it, Hebb proposed neural structures, called cell assemblies, which were formed through the action of feedback loops or what is now called the Hebb synapse. The cell-assembly theory guided Hebb’s landmark experiments on the influence of early environment on adult intelligence and foreshadowed neural network theory, an active line of research in artificial intelligence.

Sources: Scientific American, January, 1993

The Person

Psychologist; Chairman and chancellor, Psychology Department
McGill University
Last Updated
October 15, 2001

Profile viewed 31578 times

Other scientists who may be of interest: