Thoughts, Biography, Models and Influences of O. Hebb and Robbert C. Bolles
Scientists Donald O. Hebb and Robbert C. Bolles are both recognized as leading contributors so Neuropsychology in the middle to later parts of the 20th century and both men's work is still used in contemporary studies of the discipline. As will be detailed in this article, both contributed to different areas of the field. While both had the an intense desire to learn and understand neuropsychological processes, they came about their discoveries through different methods of gaining understanding.
Discuss the contributions that Donald O. Hebb and Robert C. Bolles made to the field of learning and cognition.
Bolles believed in and practiced a hands on method of discovering, a modus operandi he impressed upon his students. Colleagues Mark E. Boutin and Michael S. Fanselow quote Bolles in their 1994 obituary of him as having said, "I have always believed in the idea that experimenters should look at their animalsthe human eyeball is the instrument of choice if you want to observe a new phenomenon, and particularly if you want to gain a new understanding of it" (Boutin and Fanselow, 1996).As a scientists Bolles was first and foremost an observer. In his obituary Boutin and Fanselow said, "Bob believed that simple, direct observations led to the greatest insights." (Boutin and Fanselow 1998).
Bolles interest were in psychology an science in general were vastly varied, involving him in different areas of study in his career spanning five decades. His career began as a mathematician working for the navy. After that he found studies psychology at the university of California and his first contribution to scientific research was work with spatial memory and motivation, using rats as his subjects.
Describe the models associated with Bolles.
A year after the move he published what has been called the most influential work of his career, theory of motivation. (Boutin and Fanselow 1998). It was an important work in its insights into human cognition and what motivates a person or animal to make one choice over another. It drew from an enormous amount of data and was a final blow to Hullian drive theory in explaining motivation. His second book, Learning Theory (1975) was another big advance in understanding learning and cognition. A departure from Bolles who based many of his theories and models on his own observations, Donald Hebbs carved his conclusions out of the rich tradition of psychologist and the ideas in his work is often a breakthrough synthesis that buildings upon the work of his colleagues (Haider, 11).
In one of his most important papers, Hebbs proposes a modem in which assemblies take hold in the association cortex and then in these groups ongoing patterns of activity down stream are of notable importance.
Hebb envisions his cell assemblies taking hold in association cortex, and it is in these groups of cells, far downstream of sensory activation, that ongoing patterns of activity are of primary importance. Part of what allowed Hebb's work to be so game changing in the field was his willingness to conceptualize cognitive phenomena in terms of specific neural cells (Haider, 14). Hebb conceived of assemblies of cells spanning across the cortex yet containing discrete units of perception. To understand how learning happens, Hebbs work is important for laying down the groundwork for how the physical structure if the brain when learning occurs. To this end Hebb's work shows the connectivity within a cortex and through his experiments is able to envision the formation and permanence of unique assemblies of cells. (Haider, 11).
Describe the models associated with Hebb
Hebbs is open about how the contributions of his contemporaries influenced the outcome of his ideas, crediting them in his work.
His ideas about connectivity within a cortex is a combination of the physico-chemical modification hypothesis that was already articulated by Hilgard and Marquis and he combined that with reverberatory activity as proposed by Lorente de Nó to formulate his “dual trace” mechanism. In the model of his "dual trace" assemblies of cells formed noy just rapidly, but, and this is Hebb's contribution to this area of study, their permanence and reactivation is made more likely because of activity-dependent changes in the entire assembly of activated neurons. (Haider, 13).
Provide a framework for the theoretical concepts associated with those models.
Another landmark contribution that Hebb made in the field of psychology that has ot do with learning is Hebb’s synapse rule. From his 1949 book “The Organization of behavior, he had this to say about the process of what was later termed “Hebbian Learning:
When an axon of cell A is near enough to excite a cell B and repeatedly or persistently takes part in firing it, some growth process or metabolic change takes place
in one or both cells such that A's efficiency, as one of the cells firing B, in
Shorthand for this is that neurons that “fire together wire together”. (Hebbs, 1949)
The implications for this are vast and extend to multiple fields of neurobiology, neurosurgery and psychology. Knowing which neurons are firing at the same time can give us a window of understanding into determining which neurons have cognitive connections in their operating.
These leads to his theory of cell assembly, in which cells that have a similar cognitive function are wired together based on their function
Hebbian plasticity has been engrained to mean any long-lasting form of synaptic whether it strengthens or weakens the connection that remains synapse specific and is dependent upon on connection between pre- and postsynaptic firing.”
Analyze the modern-day relevancy of the models, such as in media advertisements or education.
The modern day use of both researchers work is present in many areas including advertisement and education. Richard Cialdini’s book, “On Motivation” which has been harelded as a game changer, and hallmark in the advertising world cites Bolles as a reference in his work. A crucial element of understanding in advertising is knowing not only what motivates people, but what could potentially motivate a person to the point that they take an action. Bolles work in motivation has generated much discussion and contributed in a big way to advertisers seeking to understand the underlying concepts that he articulated.
Raymond M. Klein in his article “The Hebb Legacy” points out the contributions made by him in the current field of education. Education centers on knowing how to allow memories to sink in to the point that they are retained. Hebbs work in how neural networks and pathways are formed have been used often in educational and memory studies in order to understand how Hebbian research can be applied into learning situation in order to maximize retention. (Klein, 1999).
Both thinkers were part of a movement in psychology that paved the way to our modern understanding of the neural system, and both were so cutting edge that we are still using their models and research in diverse ways today with in the discipline.
Bouton, M. E., & Fanselow, M. S. (1998). Robert C. Bolles (1928-1994). American Pychologist, 51(7), 773.
Haider, B. (2008). Contributions of Yale Neuroscience to Donald O. Hebb’s Organization of Behavior. Yale Journal Of Biology and Medicine, 81, 11-18.
Klein, R. M. (n.d.). The Hebb Legacy.www.cpa.ca > Welcome. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://www.cpa.ca/cpasite/userfiles/docum