Hebb, Donald O.



Born:             22 July 1904, Chester, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia

Died:              20 August 1985, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Field:             Neuropsychology




Donald Hebb was born and raised in Chester, son of Arthur and Mary Clara (Olding) Hebb, who were both physicians. He was educated at Dalhousie (B.A., 1925), McGill (M.A., 1932), and Harvard (Ph.D., 1936), and was appointed a professor of psychology at McGill in 1947. Hebb continued as a professor at McGill until 1970 when he was installed as chancellor. He was president of both the Canadian and American Psychological Associations and was awarded numerous honorary degrees. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1959 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1966.

He was influential in the area of neuropsychology, where he sought to understand how the function of neurons contributed to psychological processes such as learning. He has been described as the father of neuropsychology and neural networks.

His classic book, The Organization of Behaviour, published in 1949, introduced the theory underlying his famous neurophysiological postulate. His textbook A textbook of psychology has been reprinted several times, and his 1980 bookEssay on Mind is a summary of his ideas on the biological basis of mind

Related Links

The Hebb Legacy


Brown, Richard E. & Peter M. Milner, The Legacy Of Donald O. Hebb: More Than The Hebb Synapse.  Nature Reviews Neuroscience 4: 1013-1019 (December 2003).

Brown, Richard E., The life and work of Donald Olding Hebb: Canada’s greatest psychologist.   The Proceedings of the Nova Scotian Institute of Science 44 (1): 1-25 (2007).

Marble, Allan E.: Nova Scotians at Home and Abroad.  Lancelot Press, Windsor, Nova Scotia, 1977.


Photo used with permission of Mary Ellen Hebb.