What's wrong with Hebbian synapse models?

Brad Keele nbkeele at utmb.edu
Wed Apr 12 11:07:11 EST 1995

rising at crl.com (Hawley K Rising) wrote:
> I am trying to get through a book on large scale neuronal theories (Koch 
> and Davis, Large Scale Neuronal Theories of the Brain,1994 MIT Press).  
> In the introduction they say that although they've had a pervasive effect 
> on models, most theories about brain function don't last a decade.  An 
> example they give is the Hebbian synapse (synapse strength grows in 
> proportion to correlated activity of the pre and post synaptic neurons).  
> What was wrong with this theory and can I get a source to read about 
> whatever replaced it as acceptable?
> Thanks in advance,
> Hawley Rising
> rising at crl.com
I am a doctoral candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at the
Univ. of TX Medical Branch.  I'm not an expert, but I keep up with
current research on cellular and molecular aspects learning and memory
models, especially the phenomenon of long-term potentiation of synaptic
transmission (LTP).  LTP has its roots in Hebbian learning theory, and
is currently a very hot topic.  In my opinion, "modern" Hebbian synaptic
transmission is the cutting edge of cellular correlates to learning 
and memory.  As for durability, Donald Hebb suggested a possible
mechanism for memory formation in 1949.  LTP was scientifically established
by 1973 (Bliss and Lomo) and accepted as a cellular correlate for learning
and memory in the mid 80's (Berger).  Suffice it to say that as our
knowledge of brain function grows, we gain the ability to ask more complex
questions about the subject of interest.  This does not mean we "dump"
older theories, but merely use them in a more up-to-date manner.

Brad Keele

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