Hebb's learning model

Donald Hebb is a Canadian psychologist who, long before the existence of brain scans and modern neuroscience, developed a theory that if two connected neurons are stimulated for some time, a structural change occurs in the connecting synapse. The change in the synapse can be in the nature of a strengthening or a weakening of the neural transmission. The core of Hebb's theory is the existence of a network of a group of neurons, which can be spread over a relatively large area in the brain, and which acts as a functionally closed system. Stimulation of a small particle or even a single cell from the network will therefore not only cause the specific cell to fire, but can lead to the activation of the entire network. According to Hebb, it is the processes in the synapses that make learning possible. Repeated activity of a particular synapse causes a permanent physiological change. The brain records memories and learns by reinforcing repetitive chemical and electrical processes in the synapses. Another point of attention in Hebb's theory is the role of the environment. No stimulus received by our brains exists in isolation. Each stimulus is heard, seen, smelled, tasted or felt along with countless other stimuli. The brain recognizes the repeated stimuli from this mess of stimuli. Not all learning follows Hebb's model. Not all learning is based on repetition. Many events have such a powerful emotional charge that no repetition is needed to learn them. However, this does not apply to school learning. Most scholastic learning is based on repetition. At school, events with a strong emotional charge, which are also related to the subject matter, are the exception rather than the rule. These events also have to compete with the countless emotionally charged events that adolescents experience every day. Finally, school learning requires brain functions that were originally developed for very different purposes. Things like arithmetic and reading do not have genetic control, while skills such as talking and making contact with others do.