Neurons that fire together wire together

By Bernard Luskin, Ed.D., MFT

EVP/Dean, Graduate Studies

Wright Graduate University

Business man pointing at brain


John Dewey defines learning as a relatively permanent change in behavior as a result of experience. Learning psychology is a science that involves physiology, neuroscience, and an understanding of personal transformation. New developments in learning psychology – especially technological innovations brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic—can translate into positive learning experiences when properly applied toward the realization of students’ potential.


Zooming into the future

ZOOMinars are now common for online learning during COVID. Synchronous communication and presentation platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx have been increasingly used because of the unexpected demands of COVID-19 in our schools, colleges, and companies. To explore the newer approaches, I interviewed Dr. Bob Wright, CEO; Dr. Judith Wright, Chief Academic Officer and Professor of Transformational Education; and Dr. Michael Zwell, Chancellor of Wright Graduate University for the Transformation of Human Potential on neuropsychology, technology and learning.  We focused on understanding the detailed mechanics that enable the experiences that translate learning in the brain into personal experiences and memories that are registered in the mind.


Applying Hebb’s rule

In 1949, Donald Hebb offered a straightforward physiological metaphor describing the learning connections in a neural network. Hebb’s rule says that neurons in the brain that fire together, wire together, forming a neural network in the brain. John Dewey urged that education is more than preparation for life. Dewey opined that education is life itself. The American Psychological Association defines psychology as the study of the mind and behavior.

The actual physical manifestations in learning occur through a neural network of dendrites and synapses in the brain, manifesting learning experiences that register in the mind. Each experience is comprised of a sensory response, translated through the mind’s interpretation of symbols translated through language into understanding of the experience in the mind. Learning requires a relatively permanent change in behavior because of experience.


Synesthesia, Semiotics and Semantics

Synesthesia is the phenomenon of experiencing multiple sensations including color, taste, and texture. Human senses include hearing, seeing, feeling, touching, and smelling. Translating and remembering these physical sensations affect behavior. Physically, each sense is separate. We hear with ears; see with our eyes, smell, touch, feel and taste through our skin. Perception, including sensory couplings happen to everyone all the time. Richard Cytowic points out that everyone experiences some level of synesthesia. Synesthesia involves the physical and perceptual interpretations of these senses. (Cytowic) Now, through the FMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), monitoring, seeing, measuring, and understanding how perception occurs is measurable and can be documented. We now know more about learning, media, and psychology than ever before. My learning model is expressed through Luskin’s 3’s model. They are:

  1. Synesthesia
  2. Semiotics
  3. Semantics

These are combined into sensations in the brain and registered in memory as an experience in the mind.

As learners, we have become human-centered and screen deep. We are learning a great deal through our computers, iPads, iPhones, app-connected wearables, webinars, social media., and even virtual reality platforms. Advances in science, psychology, technology, and new pressures from COVIC-19 have permanently changed our world of education and learning. Understanding current developments and the trends that are happening is critical for teachers, counselors, administrators, staff, and students. While the fundamentals of life and learning are constant, the way we get our information and engage in new experiences is changing.

Now, artificial intelligence, “AI” is the new area of computer science advancing the development of software applications that simulate thinking, discover meaning, and make decisions through complex and dynamic data. Pundits point to an endless suite of innovations made possible by AI, including self-driving cars, robots, facial recognition technologies, big-data analysis and more. Advanced AI systems also compose text, audio, and images to such a high standard that observers have difficulty determining the difference between human and computer-generated output. Learning psychology is the way to begin to understand and participate in these advances that are changing the future.


Learning Psychology: The Wright Graduate University Difference

The fields of Neuro-Psychology, Learning Psychology and Technology plus new ways of sharing knowledge anywhere, anytime, is uniquely advancing. Today, we are learning how to learn in new and empowering ways.

Learning psychology translates through the brain’s neural network into the images and language of the mind. If you believe that John Dewey was right that education is life; then one of your most valuable skills must be the transformational art of living. Wright Graduate University is dedicated to the empowerment of transformational leaders and to supporting those working to achieve new levels of accomplishment in the development of human potential.



Hebb D (1949) The Organization of Behavior. A Neuropsychological Theory. Wiley, New York, NY

Cytowic, R.E. (1989). Synesthesia (1st ed. Vol. 1). Boston: MIT Press.

Dewey, J. (1910). How We Think (1st ed.). New York: D.C. Heath & Co.

Luskin, B., Synesthesia, Semiotics, Semantics and How We Learn, Psychology Today, The Media Psychology Effect, June 30, 2019

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