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Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School Paperback – Unabridged, March 10, 2009
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About the Author
John Medina is a developmental molecular biologist. He teaches in the department of bioengineering at the University of Washington and is the director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two sons.
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Survival: How our brain is a product of our evolution, and some traits it has adopted as a result
Exercise: How exercise improves our cognitive abilities and staves off dementia
Sleep: What the brain does during sleep, how people are biologically predisposed to various sleep patterns, and how to use naps to improve performance
Stress: The various biochemicals involved with stress and how to have less stressful relationships and life
Wiring: How neurons interact, develop, and function
Attention: How multitasking works (or doesn't work), the relationship between emotion and attention, and the need for relaxation to enhance focus
Memory: How memory formation works and the optimal way to remember things
Sensory Integration: How all of the senses work together to provide a cohesive experience, and how multiple senses can be utilized to improve learning
Vision: How vision trumps all of the other senses and can be used to create more effective presentations
Music: How music can cause improvements in cognition, be therapeutic, and how music training can improve cognition
Gender: Differences between the genders in physiology, socialization, emotional reactions, and memory.
Exploration: How the brain is constantly exploring and looking for novel things
A lot of reviewers have pointed out that many of the tips that John gives are common sense - that may be true. However, I found that knowing the neuroscience behind many of the things which John advocates ensures their adoption into day-to-day life.
Overall, a great read that has caused me to change the way I give presentations, how much I exercise and sleep, as well as how I interact with people.
After taking copious notes throughout the book and reflecting on how his principles and ideas could be implemented in my classroom, I find that I will likely be returning to this gem and it's ideas in upcoming years. Medina takes the complexities of the brain and breaks it down into basic language with 12 rules that are especially applicable to the classroom and the workplace.
His writing is conversational and the narrative bounces between scientific experiments, personal anecdotes, observations and ideas to implement in your classroom and office.
To a teacher, the chapters on memory, attention and exploration are probably the most useful, as they are loaded with ideas that could alter your classroom and instruction, if employed. Other chapters, such as those on sleep and memory, are of tremendous importance when it comes to informing your students on effective learning and living (and yourself).
Some of the chapters (gender, music and sensory integration) are interesting, but don't possess the same sort of pragmatic daily applicability as the others.
One of the best things about Medinas ideas and suggestions for the workplace is that he stops short of ever saying that 'this is the way it is'. Instead, he is transparent about when research has presented us with a frank 'we don't know yet' and a shrug of the shoulders.
Another highlight is Medinas humor and clear fascination with the field. His writing is light and his wit is often at his own expense. A quick read of the book though would be a mistake, and I recommend absorbing the material and considering its application, especially if it pertains to your field.
The only drawback to the book was that he included a section on 'More Ideas' for each chapter. Some were useful (take a nap during he afternoon if you can), but others are less pragmatic. For instance, he envisions a reimagined school environment in which students experience the same content three times a day, to enhance memory. The only problem is that he spends as much space explaining he idea as he does admitting he doesn't know how this would work. The research isn't clear he admits and also considers how interacting with the material numerous times might even confuse the student.
Overall, this is phenomenal read and highly recommended!
Applicable reading for formal education institutions and those teaching themselves, and please, I pray, may the business leaders of companies read this book and transform the way they handle employees, creativity, and brainstorming. There is something in this book for EVERYONE whether you are a passionate life-long learner, a parent raising children, curious about the brain, or a million other potentials. And it also hits on one of my main passions--getting people to truly understand that mind and body are linked, and I hope to inspire me with ways to motivate people not to think of intellect and physical well being as separate entities to choose either/or.
I started out borrowing this book from the library but had to buy my own copy. I'll be going back to it again and again.
A little late ( I am reaching 70) but now I know why I think and act as a consecuence of evollution, self persevertion, learning and must of all...chemestry. It is amazing how dependent our species behaviour is on protein molecules.
I dare to say to new readers of Medina's work....beware! You will try to reeducate yourself, you children, everybody into a new way of thinking, of understanding the people we love or work with.
Wouldn't it be nice? A better world will flurish from Juan Medina's way to look inside our brain.