Donald Hebb: biography of the father of biopsychology

Psychobiology is a discipline of psychology that studies behavior through biological principles.

Donald Hebb is considered its creator, an influential 20th century neuropsychologist. Hebb understood behavior through the functioning of neurons, which are responsible for transmitting different signals to the brain.

In this article we will see a biography of Donald HebbWe will discover some of his most important contributions related to behavior, motivation and certain higher psychological processes, which served as the basis for the creation of modern neurophysiology.

    Donald Hebb: a brief biography

    Donald Olding Hebb, born in Chester (Nova Scotia, Canada) in 1904 and died there at the age of 81, was a neuropsychologist interested in writing novels, who ended up working mainly in the field of psychobiology. In fact, he is considered the founder of this discipline. Outraged, many consider Hebb to have laid the foundation for modern neurology.

    Hebb was born to a medical mother and father. In addition, her mother was particularly influenced and interested in Maria Montessori and her educational trend. Hebb went to school until the age of 8, and at the age of 10 he entered high school, being at an advanced level due to his great abilities.

    academic career

    Donald hebb he enrolled at Dalhousie University (Canada) and graduated in 1925. In addition, he took a keen interest in psychology and began studying it at McGill University, notably thanks to authors such as William James and Freudy Watson.

    like that, he entered McGill University and obtained a master’s degree in psychology. It was then that he began a doctorate with Karl Lashley, an American behavioral psychologist. At this point Donald Hebb meets Sigmund Freud.

    Hebb pursued his doctorate at Harvard University, and there he completed it, in 1936 and at the age of 32. In his thesis Hebb spoke about the perception of brightness and size in rats, Study this group of animals in light and dark conditions.

    professional career

    Donald Hebb later returned to Canada, specifically to Montreal, and started working as a research assistant for Wilder G. Penfield, A leading American neurosurgeon.

    Penfield was then studying nerve deficits in people who had suffered some type of brain injury. Later, Hebb went to Florida with Lashley to study primate behavior, where he stayed for 5 years. Finally, he returned to Montreal and wrote his most famous work: The Organization of Behavior (1948).

    It should be noted that before his tour, Donald Hebb he first opted for the educational field, Become a principal of a school in Quebec. However, his steps led him into the world of psychobiology and neuroscience, as we will see.

      Initiator of psychobiology

      Donald hebb he was one of the most important creators of psychobiology, A discipline straddling biology and psychology; more specifically, he is responsible for the study of human and animal behavior through the principles of biology.

      Psychobiology was considered a neuroscientific discipline in the 20th century. The organization of behavior is one of the main works that have helped to achieve this.

      The organization of behavior

      The organization of behavior is considered the culmination of Hebb’s great research. In this famous work, Donald Hebb discusses the phenomena and concepts of basic psychology, Such as emotions, memory, thinking and perception.

      It was work that went “against” behaviorism; this is why behaviorists criticized it, because for them, explaining behavior by association of ideas was simply “mentalism.”

      In the play, Donald Hebb considered that these phenomena (memory, emotions, etc.) they arise through brain activity. More precisely, in this work, Hebb develops the first reasonable and accepted theory on these phenomena.

      Throughout the book, Hebb talks about the possibility that these basic phenomena could originate from groups of neurons in the brain. In addition, The Organization of Behavior collects other theories of the author, in particular of behavioral cut.

      Research and work

      Donald hebb he developed his theories in the field of psychobiology through different experiences. He developed them in animals and humans, through clinical studies and observations.

      Specifically, Donald Hebb specialized in psychobiology and neuropsychology and studied the emotional processes that occur in chimpanzees. He has also been interested in the effects of brain damage and surgery on animals, as well as the assessment of animal intelligence.

      Some of his notable works were: Handbook of Psychology (1966) and Essay on the Mind (1980).

      Ley the Hebb

      Another of Donald Hebb’s great contributions was “Hebb’s Law”. According to this law, brain synaptic connections are strengthened (Reinforce) the moment when two or more neurons are activated in a contiguous fashion, both in time and in space.

      In fact, according to Hebb’s law, what happens is that the firing of the cell (presynaptic) is associated with the activity of the other neuron (postsynaptic). This association creates changes in the structure of the brain that contribute to the development of neural networks.

      final synthesis

      Arguably Donald Hebb was a very influential psychologist in his day, who left an important legacy through which to continue his research. Although in his early days he wanted to be a novelist and write, his career eventually focused more on the field of psychobiology and animal research.

      This way, Hebb spent more than 20 years doing research because he felt he needed all this training to be a novelist.. With his excellent work, The Organization of Behavior, he gained recognition and the doors of modern neurophysiology were opened.

      In particular, he talks about cellular networks (which he also calls cell assemblies) and the relationship between brain activity and important higher functions (such as behavior).

      Death and inheritance

      Donald Hebb died in the same Canadian province where he was born (Chester, Nova Scotia), at the age of 81. Hebb’s legacy continues to be passed on in universities and schools, And is considered one of the great figures of psychology.

      His contributions formed the basis for further research in the field of psychobiology and neuropsychology.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Hebb, DO (1949). The organization of behavior: a neuropsychological theory. New York: Wiley.
      • Milner, PM (1993). Donald O. Hebb, theoretician of the mind. Research and science.
      • Pinel, J. (2006). Biopsychology. 6ED. Posted by Prentice Hall.

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