The Hebbian paradigm is perhaps the best-known unsupervised learning theory in connectionism. It has inspired wide research activity in the artificial neural network field because it embodies some interesting properties such as locality and the capability of being applicable to the basic weight-and-sum structure of neuron models. The plain Hebbian principle, however, also presents some inherent theoretical limitations that make it impractical in most cases. Therefore, modifications of the basic Hebbian learning paradigm have been proposed over the past 20 years in order to design profitable signal and data processing algorithms. Such modifications led to the principal component analysis type class of learning rules along with their nonlinear extensions. The aim of this review is primarily to present part of the existing fragmented material in the field of principal component learning within a unified view and contextually to motivate and present extensions of previous works on Hebbian learning to complex-weighted linear neural networks. This work benefits from previous studies on linear signal decomposition by artificial neural networks, nonquadratic component optimization and reconstruction error definition, neural parameters adaptation by constrained optimization of learning criteria of complex-valued arguments, and orthonormality expression via the insertion of topological elements in the networks or by modifying the network learning criterion. In particular, the learning principles considered here and their analysis concern complex-valued principal/minor component/subspace linear/nonlinear rules for complex-weighted neural structures, both feedforward and laterally connected.