David Hartley's Neural Vibrations and Psychological Associations

  • Robert B. Glassman
  • Hugh W. Buckingham

In the mid-eighteenth century David Hartley published a treatise that combined ideas about the psychology of mental associations with conjectures drawn broadly from neuroanatomy, mechanics, optics and electricity. Recognizing that a complete mechanistic theory must consider not only causally related mental associations but also their physiological substrates, Hartley conceived of neural activity as vibrations, suggested earlier by Isaac Newton, Thomas Willis, Pierre Gassendi and others (Buckingham & Finger, 1997; Finger, 1994; Glassman & Spadafora, 1997; Robinson, 1995; Smith, 1987; Wallace, 2003). Hartley approached the mind/brain issue by bridging causal concepts, not localizing psychological functions except to imply that the input vibrations of distinct sensory modalities would likely terminate in different parts of the sensorium (Aubert & Whitaker, 1996).


Sugar Cane Eighteenth Century Various Conjecture Spinal Marrow Neural Communication 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert B. Glassman
    • 1
  • Hugh W. Buckingham
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLake Forest CollegeLake ForestUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication Sciences and DisordersLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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