The History of Psychology: Fundamental Questions

By Margaret P. Munger | Go to book overview
Save to active project

28
D. O. HEBB

Donald Olding Hebb (1904–1985) became intrigued with psychology through the writings
of Sigmund Freud (p. 258), which convinced him there was room for a more rigorous ap-
proach. This insight came while spending some nine years teaching school in Quebec fol-
lowing his graduation from Dalhousie University in 1925. Curious about psychology
Hebb arranged to attend McGill University as a part-time student, and was introduced to
the more precise methods of Ivan Pavlov (p. 178) by Boris P. Babkin and Leonid Andreyev.
Hebb went on to work with two brain pioneers: Karl S. Lashley and Wilder Penfield. He
worked with Lashley at Harvard, receiving his Ph.D. in 1936, and again in 1942 when
Lashley was appointed director of the Yerkes Laboratory of Primate Biology in Orange Park,
Florida. During the intervening years, Hebb enjoyed a fellowship at the Montreal Neuro-
logical Institute with Penfield and taught at Queens University in Ontario. He took all his
teaching responsibilities seriously, from his days as an elementary school principal and
high school teacher to the training of graduate students at McGill, where he returned as a
professor in 1946. His approach was unique—he sent misbehaving elementary school
children out to play and had graduate students audit courses, rather taking them for cred-
it—each mechanism designed to develop and motivate better learning.


THE ORGANIZATION OF BEHAVIOR:
A NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL THEORY

4. THE FIRST STAGE OF PERCEPTION:
GROWTH OF THE ASSEMBLY

This chapter and the next develop a schema of neural action to show how a rapprochement can be made between (1) perceptual generalization, (2) the permanence of learning, and (3) attention, determining tendency, or the like. It is proposed first that a repeated stimulation of specific receptors will lead slowly to the formation of an “assembly” of association-area cells which can act briefly as a closed system after stimulation has ceased; this prolongs the time during which the structural changes of learning can occur and constitutes the simplest instance of a representative process (image or idea). The way in which this cell-assembly might be established, and its characteristics, are the subject matter of the present chapter. In the following chapter the interrelationships between cell-assemblies are dealt with; these are the basis of temporal organization in central processes (attention, attitude, thought, and so on). The two chapters (4 and 5) construct the conceptual tools with which, in the following chapters, the problems of behavior are to be attacked.

The first step in this neural schematizing is a bald assumption about the structural changes that make lasting memory possible. The assumption has repeatedly been made before, in one way or another, and repeatedly found unsatisfactory by the critics of learning theory. I believe it is still necessary. As a result, I must show that in another context, of added anatomical and physiological knowledge, it becomes more defensible and more fertile than in the past.

The assumption, in brief, is that a growth process accompanying synaptic activity makes the synapse more

From D. O. Hebb, “The First Stage of Perception: Growth of the Assembly.” In The Organization of Behavior: A Neuropsycho-
logical Theory (pp. 60–79). New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1949.

-357-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The History of Psychology: Fundamental Questions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 514

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?