Yes or No would be very misleading

“We are accustomed to think of any particular response as either learned or innate, which is apt to be a source of confusion in thinking about things… Is the response inherited or acquired? The answer is, Neither: either Yes or No would be very misleading.”

Pioneering neuropsychologist Donald Hebb highlights that fact that all human responses are a result of both inherited attributes and learnt experience.

Hebb is best known for his theory of how learning can be supported by networks of single neurons.

The theory, now called Hebbian learning, is a key aspect of artificial intelligence and neuroscience.

I got this quote from Oliver Sacks’ book Migraine but the source isn’t listed. If anyone knows exactly which of Hebb’s writings this comes from, do let me know.

UPDATE: Grabbed from the comments: It is from “The Organization of Behavior: A Neuropsychological Theory” – it’s on Google Books. Thanks John!


  1. John
    Posted April 7, 2007 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    It is from “The Organization of Behavior: A Neuropsychological Theory” – it’s on Google Books.

  2. Posted April 8, 2007 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    This post really got me thinking. I was wondering if there has ever been a study to see how our brain creates meaning. What is internal logic? Are thoughts the summation of a natural binary code or a series of syllogisms?

  3. healthwatchcenter
    Posted April 9, 2007 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Hello Vaughan,
    Very interesting blog on mind…every post of yours makes every one read because of the way you writes them…Oh yeah I forgot to introduce my self…I am a new reader of your wonderful blog and wanted to say hi then start reading your blog…thank you for sharing…

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