Dendritic Control of Hebbian Computations

  • Edward W. Kairiss
  • Zachary F. Mainen
  • Brenda J. Claiborne
  • Thomas H. Brown


In his influential 1949 work, The Organization of Behavior, the Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb expressed the following postulate for synaptic modification: When an axon of cell A is near enough to excite cell B, or repeatedly or consistently 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, is increased. The original idea underlying this proposal was that use-dependent synaptic modifications could form the substrate for cognitive learning and memory. More recently, it has been suggested that a similar process may also contribute to the self-organization of perceptual systems during development. Hebbian synaptic plasticity is interesting for at least two reasons. First, the idea has inspired many provocative theories and computational models of learning and self-organization (Linsker, 1990). Second, a process similar to what Hebb predicted has been shown to exist in the mammalian central nervous system (Kelso et al, 1986).


Synaptic Input Dendritic Tree Synaptic Strength Postsynaptic Activity Synaptic Modification 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward W. Kairiss
    • 1
  • Zachary F. Mainen
    • 1
  • Brenda J. Claiborne
    • 2
  • Thomas H. Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Division of Life SciencesUniversity of TexasSan AntonioUSA

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