Vol. 2 No. 1 (2019): Current Issue
Review Article

The Origins of Behavioral Neuroscience from a Learning and Memory Perspective

Robert E. Clark
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
Published June 3, 2019
  • Behavioral neuroscience,
  • Learning and memory,
  • Review,
  • Origins,
  • History
How to Cite
Clark, R. E. (2019). The Origins of Behavioral Neuroscience from a Learning and Memory Perspective. Annals of Behavioral Neuroscience, 2(1), 197-205. https://doi.org/10.18314/abne.v2i1.1697


The discipline of behavioral neuroscience grew out of earlier incarnations such as biological psychology, physiological psychology, and psychobiology. All of these labels essentially refer to the idea that the principles of biology could be productively applied to the study of topics that had been studied before, but only from a more psychological perspective. These topics would include, but are not limited to, motivation, sensation, perception, sleep, emotion, and learning and memory. In this brief review, I focus on the topic of learning and memory and provide a history of the important milestones in the development of ideas about how the brain biologically accomplishes the task of learning and memory. Included are the early ideas of Plato, René Descartes, Théodule Ribot, et al. The review continues to the modern era of learning and memory research that begins with the description of H.M. by Brenda Milner, as well as the gradual discovery that the brain contains multiple learning and memory systems that operate in fundamentally different ways and that are supported by anatomically discrete brain structures. I conclude with a brief description of the work that lead to 2000 Nobel Prize being awarded to Eric Kandel and the 2014 Nobel Prize being awarded to John O’Keefe, Edvard Moser, and May-Britt Moser.