Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

“He was a teacher to the end.”

© Irma Coucill and the CMHF
2003 Inductee

Dr. Donald O. Hebb

Born: 
July 22, 1904, Chester, Nova Scotia
Died: 
August 20, 1985
Education: 
BA - Dalhousie University; MA - McGill University; PhD - Harvard University
Throughout his life Dr. Donald O. Hebb maintained a deep interest in the relationship between mind and brain, especially in educational methods. He occupied many important offices in North American psychological associations, was a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and was the recipient of over a dozen Honorary Degrees. His book, which focused on the organization of behaviour, would have a profound impact on the field of psychology.

This exemplary educator began his career as a school teacher and principal in the Montreal area, while simultaneously continuing his studies in psychology. In 1932 he accompanied Dr. Karl Lashley, the most respected physiological psychologist at the time, to Harvard University, where he completed his doctoral research on learning in animals.

In 1942, he continued his research on the relationship between mental function and brain structure, which led to the publication in 1949 of The Organization of Behaviour. This book had a profound influence on attitudes towards neuropsychology and towards psychology as a whole. Hebb returned to McGill in 1946, a year later becoming Chairman of the Department of Psychology. In addition to continuing his teaching, research, and giving graduate seminars in the evenings, he built up the Department’s facilities with skill and energy. In 1958 he published A Textbook of Psychology, which supplemented his popular and witty introductory psychology course at McGill.