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Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (Audiobook)

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Publisher's Summary Most of us have no idea what's really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know - such as the brain's need for physical activity to work at its best. How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forg Publisher's Summary Most of us have no idea what's really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know - such as the brain's need for physical activity to work at its best. How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget - and so important to repeat - new information? Is it true that men and women have different brains? In Brain Rules, molecular biologist Dr. John Medina shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work. In each chapter, he describes a brain rule - what scientists know for sure about how our brains work - and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives. Medina's fascinating stories and sense of humor breathe life into brain science. You'll learn why Michael Jordan was no good at baseball. You'll peer over a surgeon's shoulder as he finds, to his surprise, that we have a "Jennifer Aniston neuron". You'll meet a boy who has an amazing memory for music but can't tie his own shoes. ©2008 John J. Medina; (P)2008 Pear Press


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Publisher's Summary Most of us have no idea what's really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know - such as the brain's need for physical activity to work at its best. How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forg Publisher's Summary Most of us have no idea what's really going on inside our heads. Yet brain scientists have uncovered details every business leader, parent, and teacher should know - such as the brain's need for physical activity to work at its best. How do we learn? What exactly do sleep and stress do to our brains? Why is multi-tasking a myth? Why is it so easy to forget - and so important to repeat - new information? Is it true that men and women have different brains? In Brain Rules, molecular biologist Dr. John Medina shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work. In each chapter, he describes a brain rule - what scientists know for sure about how our brains work - and then offers transformative ideas for our daily lives. Medina's fascinating stories and sense of humor breathe life into brain science. You'll learn why Michael Jordan was no good at baseball. You'll peer over a surgeon's shoulder as he finds, to his surprise, that we have a "Jennifer Aniston neuron". You'll meet a boy who has an amazing memory for music but can't tie his own shoes. ©2008 John J. Medina; (P)2008 Pear Press

30 review for Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School (Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kent

    I think I would give this book 3.5 stars if I could. The book discusses "12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school." The real focus seems feels like how we can use this to improve schools. The 12 rules are: EXERCISE | Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power. SURVIVAL | Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too. WIRING | Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently. ATTENTION | Rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring things. SHORT-TERM MEMORY | Rule #5: Repeat to remember. LONG-TERM MEM I think I would give this book 3.5 stars if I could. The book discusses "12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school." The real focus seems feels like how we can use this to improve schools. The 12 rules are: EXERCISE | Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power. SURVIVAL | Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too. WIRING | Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently. ATTENTION | Rule #4: We don't pay attention to boring things. SHORT-TERM MEMORY | Rule #5: Repeat to remember. LONG-TERM MEMORY | Rule #6: Remember to repeat. SLEEP | Rule #7: Sleep well, think well. STRESS | Rule #8: Stressed brains don't learn the same way as non-stressed SENSORY INTEGRATION | Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses. VISION | Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses. GENDER | Rule #11: Male and female brains are different. EXPLORATION | Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers. The underlying tone really seems focused on improving education and schools. He covers each of the different principles and backs it up with research. Some sections are better than others. He's not quite as engaging as Dr. Oliver Sacks, but in the overall context of putting things together to form an overall idea of improving education based on how the brain works, it is pretty engaging. He does do a good job of keeping it light and easy to understand. At times this almost gets annoying, but it does make for an easy to read book. A lot of the material I've read elsewhere, but this book does a good job of tying it all together. There is a DVD included (I haven't had a chance to view it yet) and an accompanying web site. If you just want to get the highlights of the 12 principles, checkout the web site. If you want to get the research behind the 12 principles, get the book. The content of the website actually nicely summarizes the 12 principles.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Otis Chandler

    I kind of loved this book because it give a lot of the "why" - the science - behind a lot of best practices. This is the kind of thing that helps me change my behavior - when I know how it works under the hood. The book is broken into a series of "brain rules" on different subjects. I'll list main takeaways: Exercise We all know it's good for us and it feels good and we should do it. The best quote here was "Physical activity is cognitive candy." - also "A lifetime of exercise results in a sometime I kind of loved this book because it give a lot of the "why" - the science - behind a lot of best practices. This is the kind of thing that helps me change my behavior - when I know how it works under the hood. The book is broken into a series of "brain rules" on different subjects. I'll list main takeaways: Exercise We all know it's good for us and it feels good and we should do it. The best quote here was "Physical activity is cognitive candy." - also "A lifetime of exercise results in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary." The basic science is that blood flow through your brain is good for it and increases brain activity. Tip: exercise before you need your brain to be at its best. Sleep First, great to have validation that there really are early birds and night owls. I'm definitely a night owl, despite my kids best efforts. The interesting implications of this for a company are that people are at their best - their most productive - at different times of the day - so building a culture that is flexible and let's people work their hours is key. The science about the history of naps and the fact that the mid-afternoon slump is a real thing was also very interesting. The studies about sleep loss being as cognitively limiting as alcohol were also illuminating. Another study showed sleeping on a problem really does work. But the most interesting thing about the sleep chapter was the section on dreaming and what it might mean. In particular, dreams may at least in large part be a method of neural network training to enforce learning. "humans appear to replay certain learning experiences at night, during the slow-wave phase." Stress Too much stress is bad for you - our systems weren't designed for constant stress. If you have too much adreline in your system constantly it leads to scarred blood vessels and then eventually a stroke. But a little stress is good - our brains will remember things that we are stressed about better (eg avoid predators on the savannah). But too much (chronic) stress can overwhelms the brain and hurts learning and can even make you depressed. Chronic stress is often the culprit in grief, or high anxiety households. The worst kind of stress is the feeling that you have no control over the problem— you are helpless. Wiring “What you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like— it literally rewires it.” Attention I’ve said for a long time that humans don’t remember facts, we remember facts couched in emotions. We can easily recall all the strong emotional moments of our lives as if they happened yesterday. Now it’s great to have the science behind this: emotions release dopamine, which greatly aids in memory and information processing. This means that people will relate better to products that bring up positive emotions for them. It also means that an emotional hook to lead into an idea or product will always work as it triggers the emotion in the person. “Emotionally charged events are better remembered—for longer, and with more accuracy—than neutral events.” Another interesting thing mentioned in this chapter is the 10 minute rule. We only have about 10 minutes of attention on something before we start to tune out. As the book says, “This fact suggests a teaching and business imperative: Find a way to get and hold somebody’s attention for 10 minutes, then do it again.” To get an idea to stick you have to give people the mental model for it first - “meaning before details”. Specifically, you need to: “Give the general idea first, before diving into details, and you will see a 40 percent improvement in understanding.” And then you also have to simplify and hammer home concepts and let people digest them - force-feeding too many concepts at once won’t sink in. In terms of paying attention (vs automatic things like riding a bicycle), “Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth.” - the brain can only pay attention to one thing at a time. Memory There are different types of memory: declarative (I can remember my address and SSN), non declarative (I can remember how to ride a bike), short term, and long term. Short term memory isn’t converted to long term easily: “People usually forget 90 percent of what they learn in a class within 30 days. And the majority of this forgetting occurs within the first few hours after class.”. Keys to doing so are coding in emotion (why word association works), and repetition (“repeat to remember”). Also, thinking about what tree the person will mentally group the information and how to increase entry points or create strong ones. Interestingly, “Memory worked best, it appeared, if the environmental conditions at retrieval mimicked the environmental conditions at encoding.”. This means if you learn something sad you will remember it better if you get sad again. Fascinating. This makes sense, as our brains must group similar patterns it remembers together. To get practical, you can create science, art, language stations to help people remember better. We all know this to be true - our memory isn’t perfect. This is because we remember patterns, not facts or single instances. “Our brains give us only an approximate view of reality, because they mix new knowledge with past memories and store them together as one.” Another tidbit I liked, that fits in the “repeat to remember” bucket: “A great deal of research shows that thinking or talking about an event immediately after it has occurred enhances memory for that event”. Basically the more an idea can be repeated - especially in timed intervals - the more chance it has of being encoded from short term to long term memory. Sensory Integration We remember data from each of our senses, and we learn best if we stimulate multiple senses concurrently. You remember better if you see AND hear something, or even if given words and pictures. Smells or sounds or tastes can trigger additional associations or emotions and help us create positive or negative associations to things we see or do. This is why people who haven’t adopted digital reading say things like “I love the smell of a good book”, this is why smelling fresh roasted coffee is a key part of Starbucks playbook. Smells have the power to bring back memories that are associated with them. Vision Vision trumps and overrides all other senses. I loved the story about the wine experts who were fooled by white wine with red dye in it because their eyes said it was red wine. Fascinating to read about the science of how the brain takes in the signals from the eyes, combines both signals, and applies pattern matching to fill in details. This means the brain has creative freedom to insert whatever it wants into our vision. Practical applications: our vision is caught by bold colors, orientations, motion. We remember images better than words because it’s easier to pattern match the image, so use images in presentations. Music Music makes us more empathic - we can better recognize the emotions in speech, which helps in social abilities. Making music is 10x better for kids than listening to baby einstein CD’s. Listening to music reduced cortisol and stress. Gender Boys and girls have different brain structures. When under stress, men remember the gist of things better, and women remember details and emotions. These quotes describe it well: “The difference between girls’ and boys’ communication could be described as the addition of a single powerful word. Boys might say, “Do this.” Girls would say, “Let’s do this.” “When girl best friends communicate with each other, they lean in, maintain eye contact, and do a lot of talking. They use their sophisticated verbal talents to cement their relationships. Boys never do this. They rarely face each other directly, preferring either parallel or oblique angles. They make little eye contact, their gaze always casting about the room. They do not use verbal information to cement their relationships. Instead, commotion seems to be the central currency of a little boy’s social economy. Doing things physically together is the glue that cements their relationships.” “In our evolutionary history, having a team that could understand both the gist and details of a given stressful situation helped us conquer the world. Why would the world of business be exempted from that advantage? Having an executive team or work group capable of simultaneously understanding both the emotional forests and the trees of a stressful project, such as a merger, might be a marriage made in business heaven. It could even affect the bottom line.” Exploration We learn by doing, by exploring the world. We take pleasure in that exploration. Discovery based learning is best. Medical school offers the best on the job learning - other types of education should do better to model it. Learn and be curious.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Hanawald

    Brain rules is really well organized. It's a very un-boring synthesis of current neuroscience research into very comprehensible terms. I only give it four stars because the author (openly) says that the educational implications of the findings are not clear. Some major take-aways, along with my questions and ruminations: Attention: Emotional arousal helps the brain learn. Number of minutes a person can pay attention to presentation style information (a lecture) is the same as their age, up to 10. Brain rules is really well organized. It's a very un-boring synthesis of current neuroscience research into very comprehensible terms. I only give it four stars because the author (openly) says that the educational implications of the findings are not clear. Some major take-aways, along with my questions and ruminations: Attention: Emotional arousal helps the brain learn. Number of minutes a person can pay attention to presentation style information (a lecture) is the same as their age, up to 10. After that, it’s 10. So, you need a hook every 10 minutes. In particular, a hook that resonates emotionally. BUT—has to be connected to what you’re teaching. Brains like the gist, or general ideas first and learn better this way. Experts forget that their audience is built up of novices. Memory Even long-term memory is malleable. New information makes the old long-term memory as though it were all new information. Elaborate encoding means we are more likely to remember new information. Repetition is key. Exactly what intervals are best is unknown. Sleep is so important: Really must not do meetings during nap time. Naps are healthy. We have a biological drive for a nap. Procedural learning improves tremendously when learning and practice are separated by a period of sleep. Example—model a method for solving a math problem that can be simplified. Have student try it. Then, let them sleep on it. The next day, give several problems of that type. sleeping between modeling and problem set triples the likelihood that a student will discover the simpler way to solve the problem. During sleep we close out the outside world and brain works wildly to process input from the day. We imagine the near future much more vividly than the far future. We need to work on this to make people less short sighted. Learned Helplessness is a term we shouldn’t use. It is not kids who ask for help before they try something themselves. It’s those who have been abused at random so much that they feel they have no control over their environment. Our stress responses are designed to solve a problem in a few minutes, not long term (ie-the saber tooth tiger either ate you or you got away.) I don’t know if I believe this, what about drought? One of the greatest predictors of student success in school is the stability of the home life. Gottman and Shapiro studied marriages and found that when the adults had better coping skills and were more stable, the kids physiologically changed. Sorry for the note form on this review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    The content, when you can get to it, is interesting. But I find his writing style incredibly annoying -- full of anecdotes that don't really have a very tight connection to the content of the chapter. Then, midway thru the book, you learn that he finds that 10-minute chunks interspersed with anecdotes helps students pay attention in lecture. I totally accept that for an oral presentation. But in a written text, it's really annoying. I'm used to reading nonfiction that doesn't seem to be talking The content, when you can get to it, is interesting. But I find his writing style incredibly annoying -- full of anecdotes that don't really have a very tight connection to the content of the chapter. Then, midway thru the book, you learn that he finds that 10-minute chunks interspersed with anecdotes helps students pay attention in lecture. I totally accept that for an oral presentation. But in a written text, it's really annoying. I'm used to reading nonfiction that doesn't seem to be talking down to me like I'm 17.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Starr Light

    Bullet Review: This was a fun little book that talked about the various "oddities" of your brain and have some ideas for helping to use your brain the way it was built. I have found I really enjoy learning about the brain, as it is a strange and kinda mysterious organ - this book was no disappointment in that regard (although several topics I had read in different books). Full Review: (NOTE: I wasn't going to do one...and then Amazon asked me to review, and since I did buy on Kindle, I felt, oh, we Bullet Review: This was a fun little book that talked about the various "oddities" of your brain and have some ideas for helping to use your brain the way it was built. I have found I really enjoy learning about the brain, as it is a strange and kinda mysterious organ - this book was no disappointment in that regard (although several topics I had read in different books). Full Review: (NOTE: I wasn't going to do one...and then Amazon asked me to review, and since I did buy on Kindle, I felt, oh, well, why not? So here's a "full review", as best as I can muster.) "Brain Rules" is a fun book exploring the intricacies of the brain - what makes it tick, the way we process information and how it all links back to our ancestors surviving on the plains. John Medina has 12 "rules" of the brain, which he explains along with providing perhaps helpful tips to use the brain more fully. I never really realized how much I liked psychology until I started to read books like this. I didn't realize psychology looked so much into how weird our brain is - which is something that has intrigued me since I watched the Illusions episode of Bill Nye as a young adult/teen. Ever since then, I've sought out books, such as this one, to learn more about our brain and how to better utilize it. Fortunately, while this book had some overlap with other psychology texts I've read (including the Myth of Baby Mozart), there was enough new and different material that I didn't feel the book was "a waste of time" (or better, just plain repetitive). I think what really makes this book stand out is that it tries to incorporate ways to adapt to how your brain thinks - such as getting more exercise in (treadmill while typing, anyone?) or encouraging children to take music lessons (note: this is different than Baby Mozart, in that children do better when LEARNING to play an instrument, not just listening to Mozart). Medina has a great writing style; it's incredibly informative but not too heavy-laden with psychology and biology language to make the common person stop in frustration. I really enjoyed Brain Rules and would recommend to others who love to learn more about how their brain works and how to adapt to its idiosyncrasies. Further, I would not mind reading Medina's other works.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is a fabulous book I wish had been written before I started baby-making 30 years ago! It does confirm for me that I did a lot of things right as a parent, but I would have benefited as a mom from knowing things now clearly related by John Medina on when an infant is learning what much more precisely than I knew from observation and experience alone. the information in this book is priceless for any parent and any person who intends to live life healthily, influence people positively and mak This is a fabulous book I wish had been written before I started baby-making 30 years ago! It does confirm for me that I did a lot of things right as a parent, but I would have benefited as a mom from knowing things now clearly related by John Medina on when an infant is learning what much more precisely than I knew from observation and experience alone. the information in this book is priceless for any parent and any person who intends to live life healthily, influence people positively and make a difference in the world. It should be read by anyone in psychology, psychiatry, infant and child development, parenting, and healthy living at any age/stage of life.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    We participated in a research study led by this author last year, so I was curious to read this book. John Medina was an engaging and thought-provoking speaker, and this is an engaging and thought-provoking. It took a while to read because I had to stop and think after each section. It was relevant to teaching in many ways, but also to life in general.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John

    Finally finished “Brain Rules” by John Medina. Fascinating how simple habits can boost our brain power. Seemingly passive and low impact activities like exercise and sleeping enhance our thinking ability (we’ve all heard this before, but the author provides compelling explanations as to why this is the case). There’s also an interesting discussion on multitasking (apparently it’s true you can do two things at once, just not as well as if you weren’t trying to multitask). A well written and engagin Finally finished “Brain Rules” by John Medina. Fascinating how simple habits can boost our brain power. Seemingly passive and low impact activities like exercise and sleeping enhance our thinking ability (we’ve all heard this before, but the author provides compelling explanations as to why this is the case). There’s also an interesting discussion on multitasking (apparently it’s true you can do two things at once, just not as well as if you weren’t trying to multitask). A well written and engaging book. I recommend it to everyone from artists to business owners since it reveals some little known facts on how to amplify your productivity and sense of well-being.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    The author, a lecturer, researcher, and molecular biologist, lists twelve major principles that help explain how the brain works: though processes are improved by physical exercise, we pay attention to evolutionarily important things like sex and danger, we need sleep to cogitate properly, repetition is crucial to long-term memory, we learn more through a variety of sensory inputs, gender influences how our brain process certain interactions, and so on. In most of the chapters, he goes on to adv The author, a lecturer, researcher, and molecular biologist, lists twelve major principles that help explain how the brain works: though processes are improved by physical exercise, we pay attention to evolutionarily important things like sex and danger, we need sleep to cogitate properly, repetition is crucial to long-term memory, we learn more through a variety of sensory inputs, gender influences how our brain process certain interactions, and so on. In most of the chapters, he goes on to advocate for the integration of these findings into education, thus revolutionizing the traditional classroom. This book is widely praised for its clear, lucid prose, but I didn’t come away all that impressed. I felt that Medina took up too much space describing various sections of the brain to no real purpose. Does it really help our understanding of how the brain works to visualize axons and brain sections and cells and neurons as, variously, stomped eggs, a scorpion with an egg on its back, or uprooted trees jammed together horizontally? There’s no relation between its physical structure and how it works, so what’s the point? (In the same vein, I was bemused by his habit of describing nearly every scientist he refers to. I simply don’t care whether a man looks youthful or his head is shaped like an egg; indeed, such dwelling on looks turns me off an author.) I also thought that Medina (using tricks based on principles of attention) relied too much on cutesy and misleading attention-grabbers like “we’ll learn that we each have a Jennifer Aniston neuron” (no, we don’t) or “we’ll learn the difference between bicycles and Social Security numbers” (overly playful and not at all accurate). I find deliberately misleading teasers like that to be insulting rather than enticing. Finally and most importantly, most of these principles are extremely basic. (Is it really cutting-edge news that repetition is important when learning, or that we need sleep, or that some people crumple under stress while others rise to the challenge, or that people need to feel safe in order to learn?) Despite that, Medina several times in the book proposes sweeping, pie-in-the-sky “solutions” to education problems based on this research, such as restructuring the school day into short lessons, the same content repeated three times, and thus stretching the school year into the summer to make room for all the information; or offering an early work- or schoolday as well as a later one to accommodate different sleep cycles; or mandating child care and parent classes to everyone. Some of these aren’t bad ideas; it’s just that they aren’t going to happen any time soon. Some reasonable, easily-implemented changes that could provide some benefit would have been better. It is an interesting, if basic, primer on the brain, and it is told lucidly; I just didn’t feel there was much point to it, let alone help for “surviving and thriving,” as the subtitle boasts.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    As always, I need to declare my preference for fiction. That said, let me recommend this book. Author and molecular biologist, John Medina, does a great job capturing the reader with brain research, of all things. Clearly a subject that could lull the layperson into a comatose state, Medina follows his own advice in this text. Chapters are not overly long; each reading objective is clearly stated, and he reviews the salient items at the end of each chapter, with three or four bulleted items. To As always, I need to declare my preference for fiction. That said, let me recommend this book. Author and molecular biologist, John Medina, does a great job capturing the reader with brain research, of all things. Clearly a subject that could lull the layperson into a comatose state, Medina follows his own advice in this text. Chapters are not overly long; each reading objective is clearly stated, and he reviews the salient items at the end of each chapter, with three or four bulleted items. To help you understand and remember complex ideas, he shares anecdotes and narratives from his own life, as well as unusual stories from scientific research. One such story illustrated working memory (or storage and retrieval--I can't remember which): A man could remember ridiculously long lists of words after reading them only once, and then recall them with one hundred percent accuracy over twenty years later! These anecdotal interludes, plus the straightforward, simple writing will keep any reader engaged. Additionally, readers will develop a deeper understanding of what the brain 'likes' in terms of maintaining attention, as well as recalling information. A little humor helps to lighten the cerebral load. Highly recommended to teachers, high school age students, and parents.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lars Guthrie

    My sister and I both work with kids and have our own little book club where we read works that are related to learning, the brain, and child development. While she liked 'Brain Rules,' she critiqued for being 'pop.' I get that, but I really liked the book. We read it after seeing Medina give an enthusiastic and inspiring presentation at the Learning and the Brain Conference several months ago in San Francisco. He's definitely a salesman type with his own shtick, but for me, it works. I was readi My sister and I both work with kids and have our own little book club where we read works that are related to learning, the brain, and child development. While she liked 'Brain Rules,' she critiqued for being 'pop.' I get that, but I really liked the book. We read it after seeing Medina give an enthusiastic and inspiring presentation at the Learning and the Brain Conference several months ago in San Francisco. He's definitely a salesman type with his own shtick, but for me, it works. I was reading an excellent, but all-encompassing book by Fernette and Brock Eide, 'The Mislabeled Child,' at the same time (still on that one) as 'Brain Rules,' and enjoyed having something a bit less weighty that still made me rethink how kids learn. One of the key points Medina made at that conference was a possible way we can screen for good teachers--the concept of Theory of Mind. Medina essentially turned around current examination of that concept, the ability to think about what others are thinking about. Lots of fascinating work is being done with children trying to discover how much an awareness that others have thoughts as well as oneself is innate, rather than learned. Early identification of a Theory of Mind deficit might help children with communicative disorders like those on the autism spectrum. Instead of just looking at children's Theory of Mind, Medina proposes that we look at teachers' ability to understand what others are thinking. He noted that learning is constructed and breakdowns occur when there are 'gaps' caused by faulty understanding of underlying concepts. Teachers cannot assume kids get what they are teaching, and move forward in linear fashion. They must listen to what the kids say, and be able to interpret, evaluate and return to their students' understanding. And they have to do that not with a few students but with an entire classroom. That's an astounding ability. When we think about great teachers, we intuitively recognize that ability. Usually the teachers we remember and admire brought not only an enthusiasm for their subject to the classroom, but empathy. Good teachers respect what their students say, reinforce what is correct about their understanding, and direct them in positive ways to rethink faulty assumptions. Perhaps, Medina says, 'an advanced skill set in Theory of Mind predicts a good teacher.' If that is true, 'existing Theory of Mind tests could be used like Myers-Briggs personality tests to reveal good teachers from bad, or to help people considering careers as teachers.' With that idea, Medina certainly engaged me at the conference, and once again in Rule #3 of his book, 'Every brain is wired differently.' The book is framed as twelve of these 'rules.' Each one of them really got me reviewing and modifying my own understanding of the brain. For example, with his rule ('Rule #5: Repeat to remember') and discussion on short-term memory, Medina makes a discerning distinction between declarative and nondeclarative memories. While we consciously retrieve the former as we recall information such as the names of the presidents, we do not do so when we remember how to ride a bike. I've really been thinking a lot about this motor-skill type of memory and its connection to the reading process, which we want to be automatic and subconscious. As someone who teaches that process, I'm still working on assimilating Medina's thoughts on the 'inefficiency of text.' However proficient you are as a reader, he notes, you still must 'stop and ponder individual textual features.' While it's clear to me that reading is not 'natural' for humans, I am not sure I can completely accept that 'pictures are a more efficient mechanism of information than text.' If that's so, why did Medina bother writing his book? That's an issue I'll have to keep reconsidering, which can't be a bad thing. Whether or not we should follow the 'USA Today' principle ('less text, more pictures'), as Medina suggests, I have no doubt that a multisensory approach to all learning is beneficial. Medina prompts us to think about memory and sensory experience in another surprising way, by noting that elaboration is a good thing. 'More pieces of intellectual baggage to inventory should make learning more difficult,' he writes. However, 'extra cognitive processing...helps the learner to integrate...new material with prior information.' I loved the way Medina encapsulates this concept: 'We know that information is remembered best when it is elaborate, meaningful, and contextual.' My reading of 'Brain Rules' was certainly enhanced by going to Medina's website and watching the short slide shows and videos that supplemented his text (material also available on a CD that accompanies the book). It was also enhanced by more reading, that artificial information-gathering process. In a bit of synchronicity, I read the Eides' observation in 'The Mislabeled Child': 'Because children with poor language output can't effectively elaborate information, they'll have far greater difficulty with many kinds of language-based learning.' Another nice connection I made gets back to the idea of children's innate capacity for learning. Medina points out that babies seem to come equipped with the scientific method: 'Hypothesis testing...is the way babies gather information. They use a series of increasingly self-corrected ideas to figure out how the world works.' Paul Bloom, a scientist at Yale has just completed a wonderful study of babies' 'rich understanding of objects and people' (see his New York Times article: 'The Moral Life of Babies' at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/09/mag...). He comments, 'Babies might start off smart, because it enables them to get smarter.' Despite criticisms that could be made of Medina's easy-to-read format as superficial, this book really got me thinking and rethinking about learning and teaching, memory, sleeping (which Medina says is an active learning time we need, rather that merely a restorative period), and so much more. It's a useful introduction to recent brain research for beginners, as well as great elaboration on that subject for those with more knowledge. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    John

    A very straightforward read on the latest advance in the understanding of how the brain works. A lot of the chapters draw from some of the accessible trade books on cognitive development. Stories from Deborah Tannen, Oliver Sachs, Howard Gardner, Steven Jay Gould, etc. add stories and examples to Medina's main structure of the book. The book is organized around 12 principles that Medina feels are necessary to a healthy brain (due to what Medina sees as evolutionary factors). The first principle A very straightforward read on the latest advance in the understanding of how the brain works. A lot of the chapters draw from some of the accessible trade books on cognitive development. Stories from Deborah Tannen, Oliver Sachs, Howard Gardner, Steven Jay Gould, etc. add stories and examples to Medina's main structure of the book. The book is organized around 12 principles that Medina feels are necessary to a healthy brain (due to what Medina sees as evolutionary factors). The first principle is that physical exercise helps keep our brains active as well. Our ancestors were active and our brains adapted to that environment and still rely on our mobility. The second principle is that our brains evolved to survive our environment and we have thousands of years of outdoor living to overcome to deal with the past hundred years of technology. The third principle is that each of our brains are uniquely wired. It's impossible to develop a standard model of the brain because each one is vastly different. The 4th is that we can only pay attention for about 10 minutes before our attention drifts. Medina focuses on how teachers and presenters need to keep their audience focused through short learning modules. The 5th is that we can improve our short-term memory by cycling through memories several times in a limited time period. The mid-principle explores how our long-term memories work to retain knowledge. The 7th principle examines how we need sleep to allow our brain to think. The 8th principle is that stress is really bad for our thinking. Number 9 (appropriately), is about how we make sense of the world around us using our senses in conjunction with one another, except for Vision, which overrules all other senses. This is principle 10 which says we literally see to believe. Principle 11 is all about gender: men's brains process things in a general sense, while women's brains seem to have better control of details. The last principle is that we explore the world around us. Exploration is how we as a species evolved and how our brain develops from infancy to adulthood. The book has a website at brainrules.net which has a breakdown of the book as well as exercises and resources for each of the rules.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    A solid attempt at making a practical (useful) book on how the brain works, aimed at everyday people. He focuses on memory and efficiency, and writes in an engaging style. As a long-time researcher in the field he has the science cred, and he explains it well. There's a website (brainrules.net I think) that goes with the book, and when the book is released for real (I got a galley) it'll come with a DVD. My only complaint is that he's insufficiently scientific in the book. I wanted more hard numb A solid attempt at making a practical (useful) book on how the brain works, aimed at everyday people. He focuses on memory and efficiency, and writes in an engaging style. As a long-time researcher in the field he has the science cred, and he explains it well. There's a website (brainrules.net I think) that goes with the book, and when the book is released for real (I got a galley) it'll come with a DVD. My only complaint is that he's insufficiently scientific in the book. I wanted more hard numbers and facts about the trials of his techniques and fewer stories about people. His technique is very much to begin with an anecdote that makes the section real, but I tired of them by midway through the book. And it often seems that the critical parts of his suggestions remain untested and unproven in science. But its flaws don't prevent it from being worth reading. I'm trying to get my boy to focus using the techniques I read here, and I'm hoping I see some small improvements after only two days. Of course, that's just anecdotal ...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I read this for a cognitive learning group at work, kind of a self-help meets neuroscience attempt. Some of it was interesting, some of it was stuff most people 'know' but the scientific explanations solidified it, and some seemed a little bit of a stretch.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Clint

    This subject matter is fast-becoming my favorite for non-fiction books. All this new neuroscience that has jumped up in the last twenty years has been overall pretty uplifting. The malleability of the brain, its connection with the body, and its amazing powers of regeneration and lifelong ability to change are overall pretty good news for a world that has kind of let itself slide into a damaging passivity and learned helplessness. This book isn't a business or education book, it's a pop science This subject matter is fast-becoming my favorite for non-fiction books. All this new neuroscience that has jumped up in the last twenty years has been overall pretty uplifting. The malleability of the brain, its connection with the body, and its amazing powers of regeneration and lifelong ability to change are overall pretty good news for a world that has kind of let itself slide into a damaging passivity and learned helplessness. This book isn't a business or education book, it's a pop science book, in the best way. The only thing to do with work and school is his suggestions at the end of chapters about how he would implement something or other in offices or schools. Honestly he's kind of a fascist when it comes to his ideal schools, but so what, great intentions. One cool thing I noticed was that in one part he talks about the attention span of the average mind, and how minds need a hook every ten minutes or so in order to stay interested in something, and that's EXACTLY how he writes every section of his book. I guess it worked, because I read this whole thing in bed through a really miserable sickness while my friends were partying their asses off. Oh well. I HAD A PARTY OF THE INTELLECT, BITCHES! *sob*

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    3.5 John Medina explains 12 principles that involve the brain or thoughts that can help you in life. The copy I checked out from the library contained a dvd that gave an overview of the book that explained all of Medina's main points. This book is worth reading and its ideas are worth incorporating into your life. Watch this video to see if you might be interested in reading this book: Brain Rules From the book: “If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what th 3.5 John Medina explains 12 principles that involve the brain or thoughts that can help you in life. The copy I checked out from the library contained a dvd that gave an overview of the book that explained all of Medina's main points. This book is worth reading and its ideas are worth incorporating into your life. Watch this video to see if you might be interested in reading this book: Brain Rules From the book: “If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a classroom. If you wanted to create a business environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a cubicle. And if you wanted to change things, you might have to tear down both and start over.”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Atif Shaikh

    The book lays out the core aspects of cognitive science in layman terms and is a fluid and entertaining read. The author keeps it clear from time to time what is established and what is experimental or state of the art in terms of our understanding of cognition. The chapters are very well organized, each focusing on a particular aspect of personal development and life choices. I learned a lot although I already had good understanding of chapters around memory but John's style of writing leads a The book lays out the core aspects of cognitive science in layman terms and is a fluid and entertaining read. The author keeps it clear from time to time what is established and what is experimental or state of the art in terms of our understanding of cognition. The chapters are very well organized, each focusing on a particular aspect of personal development and life choices. I learned a lot although I already had good understanding of chapters around memory but John's style of writing leads a sticky factor. A must read book for all growth mindset folks regardless of one's prior understanding and knowledge of the subject. Highly recommend it to all. I am now looking forward to read his next book 'Brain Rules for Babies'

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sudarshan Baliga

    I liked this book so much. Maybe because the content is in line with what I believe. The book is mainly about the relationship of the brain with body movement, stress, and how the information is stored and recalled.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Zahraa El-Kabengi

    Quite enjoyed this book :) I found the book relaxing and fun to read. Some research results was quite interesting especially the last 3 chapters about music, gender and the adventurous nature of humans, otherwise some stuff was repeated for me but definitely was a fun recap.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    This was a pretty interesting book. Thanks to the spouse for letting me regurgitate it back to him every night. It's the kind of book you must talk about with others. And often! You lucky people! A lot of reference to the study of injured brains were found in it, so my main take away was this - wear a bike helmet. Every single time.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Tim Hughes

    This book was recommended to my partner while on a training course. It's an easy read and takes you through 12 areas of your brain and you will come out the other end, better equipped to use your brain more effectively. In work, we could all do with an update on how to make ourselves a little better and use our brain power more efficiently and this book certainly goes some way to "upgrade" our thinking.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rob Thompson

    About the book: Brain Rules gives you insight into how our brains function and explains how you can take advantage of such knowledge to push your brain to work better. From gaining more productivity at work to absorbing more at school, mastering the “brain rules” will help make learning with all your senses become second nature. About the author: John Medina is a professor, research consultant and expert in molecular biology. He founded the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research and the Talar About the book: Brain Rules gives you insight into how our brains function and explains how you can take advantage of such knowledge to push your brain to work better. From gaining more productivity at work to absorbing more at school, mastering the “brain rules” will help make learning with all your senses become second nature. About the author: John Medina is a professor, research consultant and expert in molecular biology. He founded the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research and the Talaris Research Institute. My highlights: Regular exercise stimulates the body to renew itself and generates hormones to help the brain work. The more you exercise, the healthier and more robust your brain and body will be! You have a natural sleep cycle that is individual to you. Follow it and you’ll feel and think better. What exactly does sleeping do? Simply put, sleeping regenerates our mind and body. When it comes to sleeping patterns, there are three types: larks, owls and hummingbirds.Larks wake up often before 6 a.m. and are the most alert before noon. Some 10 percent of the population are classified as larks. In contrast, owls rarely hit the sack before 3 a.m., being most alert around 6 p.m. Owls too make up about 10 percent of the population. The rest of us are hummingbirds, fluctuating between the other two types. Sometimes we stay up late; sometimes we wake up before the sun rises. Chronic stress is debilitating, making you think poorly and lose memory. Reduce stress where you can. While a little stress can help you take action, too much stress is detrimental to your overall health. Your brain pays attention to stimuli it considers the most important. The rest is just noise. If you want your audience to pay attention to a presentation, for example, keep it under 10 minutes, as otherwise the abundance of information will overload the minds of your audience! Our brains store information if it's meaningful and doesn't interfere with other information. Information needs to be meaningful for our brains to remember it.If you have to memorize a piece of information, make it more meaningful by repeating the information to yourself at spaced intervals. Spaced intervals make your brain realize that the information you’re repeating and it's processing is important. It must be meaningful, your brain thinks, or you wouldn't be recalling it so often. And when your brain attaches meaning to something, it remembers it better. Our senses have evolved to work together. Multisensory environments can help you learn better. We don't learn as well in unisensory situations, in which only one sense is used. The benefits of multisensory experiences might seem counterintuitive. Wouldn’t a brain get overloaded with too much competing information? Yet our brains don't work that way. Research has shown that they prefer heavy lifting! So expose yourself to multisensory learning tools. To better remember facts, combine visuals with information. Our visual sense is the strongest. When people listen to information, they only recall about 10 percent of it after a period of three days. Yet if an image accompanies spoken information, people will remember 65 percent of the information after the same period.This is called the pictorial superiority effect. Final summary The human brain is a sophisticated information-transfer system. Optimize your mind by understanding better how it works. Exercise, get enough sleep and avoid chronic stress. Take advantage of multisensory learning and the pictorial superiority effect. In doing so, you’ll maximize your intellectual potential.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gretchen Rubin

    Lots of interesting insights and information about how the brain works.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Price

    There were parts of this book I loved and parts I hated, so it was really difficult for me to figure out how to rate it. I loved the first chapter so much -- about how exercise makes your thinking sharper -- that I devoted a podcast episode to it. Other chapters were fascinating too, in particular the sleep chapter. However, there was a description of the making of foie gras on page 88 that was a dealbreaker for me. And because it came during the chapter on "Attention," I presume it was a techniq There were parts of this book I loved and parts I hated, so it was really difficult for me to figure out how to rate it. I loved the first chapter so much -- about how exercise makes your thinking sharper -- that I devoted a podcast episode to it. Other chapters were fascinating too, in particular the sleep chapter. However, there was a description of the making of foie gras on page 88 that was a dealbreaker for me. And because it came during the chapter on "Attention," I presume it was a technique the author was employing to break the monotony of a bunch of dry scientific facts with an anecdote the listener would remember. I remembered it all right. So much so that I was enraged for the rest of the book, that the mere thought of the book makes me sick. So if this particular page could be stripped, the book would have rated a five for me. But the author's choice, to relay a deeply disturbing explanation about how animals are tortured for the sake of gluttony, tainted the book for me to the point where I'm going to need to give it a two. (He was using the explanation because it was so disturbing; it disturbed his mother to the point that she can't get it out of her head.) There are other incidents where disturbing animal experiments are described -- but those are experiments for the sake of medicine. The practice of making foie gras is a socially condoned torture for no reason other than the fact that a force-fed goose's liver tastes rich -- how insane that it even happens, that no one has put a stop to it. That we, as a society in general, condone it. And so the author's tactic has worked a bit too well here. I'll remember this book, all right. For the rest of my life. To be clear: I understand that the author does not condone foie gras. What I resent is the fact that I've been manipulated.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Angie

    This book is an extremely informative book. I wanted to read a book that would help me discover how and why our brains learn different ways. I didn’t want to read a book that was packed with scientific details that were hard to understand. John Medina combined the scientific details with common experiences and stories to create a revealing book that was enjoyable to read. Each chapter began with a different brain rule. Most of the brain rules that were highlighted in the book were common knowled This book is an extremely informative book. I wanted to read a book that would help me discover how and why our brains learn different ways. I didn’t want to read a book that was packed with scientific details that were hard to understand. John Medina combined the scientific details with common experiences and stories to create a revealing book that was enjoyable to read. Each chapter began with a different brain rule. Most of the brain rules that were highlighted in the book were common knowledge, but understanding why and how, make this an interesting book to read. Each chapter has the same layout, which I think makes the reading flow together. He begins with a short story that is related to that particular brain rule. The stories that are told allow the reader to understand how and why his theory works. The story grabs your attention, and then he proceeds to describe how it relates to the given principle. More examples are given to help you make connections with the topic. The scientific reasons are introduced, but not in too much depth that make it hard to read. Each chapter ends with ideas that will help you master that brain rule. The solutions and stories that are given in this book offer help for both young and older people. The ideas given to help you achieve are easy to follow and include in your everyday life. If some of the ideas could be integrated into a classroom, I think children could enhance their willingness to learn. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to increase their knowledge about how the brain learns.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ted Witt

    We expect that findings from scientific research will be quickly translated into everyday practice when it comes to medicine, technology, engineering and marketing. However, when it comes to schools and education, research finds it difficult to cut through the bonds of tradition. In his bestselling book Brain Rules, molecular biologist John Medina suggests that the typical five-period day in high school might be radically restructured if we were to consider how the brain actually works. Medina wri We expect that findings from scientific research will be quickly translated into everyday practice when it comes to medicine, technology, engineering and marketing. However, when it comes to schools and education, research finds it difficult to cut through the bonds of tradition. In his bestselling book Brain Rules, molecular biologist John Medina suggests that the typical five-period day in high school might be radically restructured if we were to consider how the brain actually works. Medina writes, "In the school of the future, lessons are divided into 25-minute modules, cyclically repreated throughout the day. Subject A is taught for 25 minutes, constituting the first exposure. Nintey minutes later, the 25-minute content of Subject A is repeated, and then a third time." In Medina's mind, grade levels become less important. "Memory is not fixed at the moment of learning, and repition provides the fixative," he says, wondering, "Perhaps learning in the long view should be thought of the same way one thinks of immune booster shots, with critical pieces of information being repeated on a yearly or semi-yearly basis." For readers, the point is, we now know more about how the brain functions than we ever have before. How we act, plan and work in light of that knowledge needs to be rethought. Our models are inefficient or just plain wrong.

  27. 4 out of 5

    John Britto

    Thanks to author John Medina for taking up such a risk to research and explain the complex thing, according to human brains, of "how brain works" to the level that human brain can understand easily. The author, in his book explains 12 things about how our brains functions. This book contains of working science about brains, exemplary of experiment about the brain's function and questions. Here are the 12 things that the author says how the brain functions and fascinating ideas about them..... 1) S Thanks to author John Medina for taking up such a risk to research and explain the complex thing, according to human brains, of "how brain works" to the level that human brain can understand easily. The author, in his book explains 12 things about how our brains functions. This book contains of working science about brains, exemplary of experiment about the brain's function and questions. Here are the 12 things that the author says how the brain functions and fascinating ideas about them..... 1) Survival - The human brain evolved too. 2) Exercise - Exercise boosts brain power. 3) Sleep - Sleep well think well. 4) Stress - Stressed brains do not learn the same way the non stressed brains. 5) Wired - Every brain is wired differently. 6) Attention - People don’t pay attention to boring things. 7) Memory - Repeat to remember. 8) Sensory integration - Simulate more of the senses at the same time. 9) Vision - vision trumps all other senses. 10) Music - Study or listen to boost cognition. 11) Gender - Male and Female brains are different. 12) Exploration - we are powerful and natural explorers. This book is really a good one to read, if you do so, You will know how to make your brain to do amazing things.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Snell

    This one was fascinating. I finally found out why it's possible to faint from shock! Your brain is so glucose-hungry that you can only use a very small percentage of it at a time, for the simple reason that you don't have enough glucose (or enough oxygen to break the glucose down, or the ability to get rid of the by-products of oxygen break-down fast enough) to fuel more than a small percentage. So if you see/learn something shocking, your brain tries to process too much at once, using too large This one was fascinating. I finally found out why it's possible to faint from shock! Your brain is so glucose-hungry that you can only use a very small percentage of it at a time, for the simple reason that you don't have enough glucose (or enough oxygen to break the glucose down, or the ability to get rid of the by-products of oxygen break-down fast enough) to fuel more than a small percentage. So if you see/learn something shocking, your brain tries to process too much at once, using too large a percentage of your brain, and the brain has to shut off because it doesn't have enough energy to do that much processing! This, and many, many other interesting facts are in this book. It does a good job of explaining what we do know about how the brain works and how very, very much we don't know, and the author has lots of ideas for experiments that should be run so that we can find out more. In the meantime, he has advice for living better lives based on what we do know about how our brains work. Most of them are very elementary (e.g., exercise, get enough rest), but I found it fascinating to learn how neurology supports those common-sense bits of advice.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Malleswari

    Good Book. Helped to understand how human brain functions and how it get affected by the activities we do in our daily lives., such as sufficient amount of sleep and exercise helps healthy brain functioning, where as excessive stress affects the brain functionality in a negative way. I felt interested while getting to know about brain's memory system which has four stages of processing, viz., Encoding, Storing, Retrieving and Forgetting. To make something to be in long-term memory, we need to me Good Book. Helped to understand how human brain functions and how it get affected by the activities we do in our daily lives., such as sufficient amount of sleep and exercise helps healthy brain functioning, where as excessive stress affects the brain functionality in a negative way. I felt interested while getting to know about brain's memory system which has four stages of processing, viz., Encoding, Storing, Retrieving and Forgetting. To make something to be in long-term memory, we need to memorise that often in regular intervals. I enjoyed listening to this book, I would recommend this. Thanks.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Natali

    I really enjoyed this book. Some of this research is pretty popular now but consider that this book is a few years old and it is even more impressive! The author is witty and approachable in his approach to explaining brain science. And he gives concrete examples and suggestions on how we can live our lives according to the way our brains work, rather than against it. I was a huge fan of Brain Rules for Baby so I wanted to go back and read this. I still like For Baby better but I'm such a fan of I really enjoyed this book. Some of this research is pretty popular now but consider that this book is a few years old and it is even more impressive! The author is witty and approachable in his approach to explaining brain science. And he gives concrete examples and suggestions on how we can live our lives according to the way our brains work, rather than against it. I was a huge fan of Brain Rules for Baby so I wanted to go back and read this. I still like For Baby better but I'm such a fan of this author that I'll read just about anything he writes.

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