John Medina’s Brain Rules book made a huge impact on me. I was blown away by the concepts and the possibilities of their application in my life.


In Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina, a molecular biologist, 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 ideas for our daily lives.

For those who have read the book, this is a good repetition (Rule #5: Repeat to remember). For those who have not read the book, this is a brief summary.

1. Exercise boosts brain power

Exercise supplies the brain with more oxygen and changes the molecular machinery within the brain. This rule explains why I did my best homework after a couple of hours of play with friends.

2. The human brain evolved too.

The strongest brains survive, not the strongest bodies. Survival means ability to learn from mistakes, work in teams, create meaningful relationships and create safe environments. All of these are crucial for better cognitive functions. Are our schools and universities geared to this? What about our offices?

3. Every brain is wired differently.

Two people do not have the same brain, not even twins. Our actions, thoughts and feelings change our brains physically. Forget multiple intelligences. There are billions of dynamic intelligences that are constantly evolving. Use it or lose it!

4. We do not pay attention to boring things.

Fun, variety, previous memories and something extra-ordinary – these are the key to increasing and retaining attention. Brains do not multi-task well! This was a great eye-opener for me, personally.

5. Repeat to remember – Short-Term Memory.

The brain holds 7 pieces of information for 30 seconds or less. Repetition and initial encoding in the brain that is elaborate and repetitive is important to retention.

6. Remember to repeat – Long-Term Memory.

It takes a long time to place information in a long-term memory. The trick is constant exposure to the information in specifically timed-intervals.

7. Sleep well, think well.

Our brains continue to be active and to learn while we sleep. Lack of sleep affects our cognitive function, motor ability, memory, reasoning abilities and even our mood. So go ahead, take a short mid-day nap. Your brain will thank you for it.

8. Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.

Continued stress damages cognitive ability, memory and even the motor skills. Emotional stability and balance is the single greatest contributor to academic success. This is a big wake-up call to all of us!

9. Stimulate more of your senses.

This fosters greater understanding and better memory. Smell is a powerful tool to enhance memory. Think back to how many of your memories are linked to smell, touch and even tone of the voice.

10. Vision trumps all other senses.

While all senses contribute to brain function, vision is the king of the senses as far as the human brain is concerned. Marketing people have known this for years. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.

11. Male and female brains are different anatomically.

Male and female brains handle stress, anxiety and emotions differently.

12. We are powerful and natural explorers.

The brain learns better through exploration and experimentation and not by passive listening. The way babies learn through exploration is the perfect example.

Brain Rules website has tons of explanations, materials and audio/video excerpts that are definitely worth exploring.

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