Neurons that fire together wire together

Posted on by Curt Thompson

In 1949, Donald Hebb, a Canadian neuropsychologist, wrote what has become known as Hebb’s axiom: “Neurons that fire together wire together.” Each experience we encounter, whether a feeling, a thought, a sensation—and especially those that we are not aware of—is embedded in thousands of neurons that form a network (“net”). Repeated experiences become increasingly embedded in this net, making it easier for the neurons to fire (respond to the experience), and more difficult to unwire or rewire them to respond differently.

This is a good thing when learning the name of a new acquaintance—the net helps us to remember; but not so good when being yelled at repeatedly as a child—the net also remembers this, and has a difficult time knowing how to respond later in life when someone raises their voice with us. Renewing our minds is all about creating new, healthy nets that fire together so they can wire together.

Curt Thompson, M.D. is the founder of Being Known and the author of Anatomy of the Soul. He is a clinical psychiatrist in private practice just outside Washington, D.C. — in Falls Church, VA.

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One Response to Neurons that fire together wire together

  1. Teresa Garner says:

    Dr. Thompson – I have your book ‘Anatomy of the Soul’. Thank you so much!!!

    As a youth pastor at a church in Michigan – I am convinced that we must pay attention to the adolescent psychology, learning styles, brain function, neuroscience along with the Word of God, prayer, mentoring in order to deeply impact the lives of our students.

    I will be taking a post as an Associate Professor at Olivet Nazarene University this fall. I am currently finishing my job here as the High School Youth Pastor in Jackson, MI. In order to fulfill my duties at the University, I am looking for a PhD or EdD and/or possibly a DMin that would include an interdisciplinary approach incorporating the following elements: neuroscience, adolescent psychology, teaching/learning styles, Bible, and Theology. I know it seems to be a stretch. But, so much has changed when it comes to adolescence, our expectations, the knowledge of brain development – I feel it is time to shed light on this for our ministry majors (Youth Ministry majors especially.

    I am interested in your response as to where I might find a program or where they might build a program for such…

    I will be sending for the CD’s of your lectures at Biola. I was very interested to hear you on these topics. These are the things I have been studying over the last several years. I realized years ago – that through my own Inner Healing program and training I needed to get deeper with my students. But, in order to do so – I had to be willing to discover their deepest fears, hurts, and injuries. I had to let go of judgment and take hold of God’s healing grace and power to change their lives. Wow! This ministry assignment for my husband and I – over the last 20 years has been quite the ride! God has been healing the hearts of those living in sin for years through their transparency, confession, and yes, God’s grace!!!

    I have written a book – but, if you have a chance to respond – I would be so very grateful!!!
    Teresa Beth Garner

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