Brain Rules

These are some notes from the book: Brain Rules by John Medina.

By learning about core brain function we can improve our thinking and learning in all aspects of our lives.

Our brains have evolved to increase our chances of survival by achieving:

  1. Solve problems
  2. Function in an unpredictable environment.
  3. Operate in near-constant motion.

Category 1: How Nature makes a Brain

Rule 1: Our brains have evolved for survival

Three Distinctly Human Characteristics

  • Imagination
  • The ability to adapt to variation
  • Cooperation

Rule 5: Our brains are each uniquely wired

  • Neurons control our learning.
  • Everyone has a unique set of neural pathways.

Category 2: How your Environment influences your Brain

Exercise, sleep, and stress are 3 key aspects of our lives which affect our cognition, brain health, and learning.

Rule 2: Exercise Boosts Brain function

More exercise results in more brain power.

Exercise boosts cognition by increasing blood flow to the. brain.

  • Use a treadmill desk → Light exercise while working.

Rule 3: We need Sleep to Think

Sleep is an essential function of the brain which allows us to learn.

When we don’t get enough sleep, our cognitive ability suffer.

Rule 4: Stress can hurt the Brain

Stress interferes with out brain’s ability to learn because we haven’t evolved to handle it for long periods of time.

Category 3: How a Brain Perceives Stimuli

Rule 8: We learn best when using multiple Senses

  • The first step is sensing (absorbing the input).
  • The second step is routing (when the brain sends these signals to the parts of the brain pertaining to each sense).
  • The third step is perceiving (when the brain makes sense of those signals).

Rule 9: Vision Is the Dominant Sense

Vision leads and influences all of the other senses.

If we receive contradictory information from multiple senses, vision tends to win out.

Rule 10: We’re Wired to Respond to Music

  • Playing and listening to music can notably improve cognition.
  • Music leads to improved auditory skills.
  • Music leads to improved language skills.
  • Music leads to improved social skills.

Category 4: How a Brain Thinks, Part 1

Rule 6: Paying Attention Is a Multi-Step Process

The better we’re able to focus on something, the better we’re able to learn it and remember it.

Selective attention allows us to narrow our attention to one thing at a time, even in an environment filled with stimuli.

By attempting to focus on two tasks at once, you lessen your ability to complete either. You can be more productive and focused, then, by completing one task at a time.

Rule 7: The Brain Needs to Form, Retrieve, and Forget Memories

We can strengthen our memories through repetition, and therefore boost our learning.

Memory is one of the key characteristics that makes us human, because it enables us to retain information and learn from experience.

  • Working memories are temporary memories that have been stored for immediate use. Short-term memory retrieval is straightforward: When you search for a memory, you’re able to find it and review it accurately.
  • Long-term memories are a small number of memories that are stored for an extended period of time. Long-term memory retrieval is more complicated.

Techniques for Creating Strong Memories

  • To strengthen effortful processing and to create accurate long-term memories, we need to repeat the information, starting soon after the event occurs.
  • Another strategy is to repeat information over an extended period of time. Spacing out repetition of information is more effective than trying to cram it all in at once.

Category 5: How a Brain Thinks, Part 2

Rule 11: Gender Affects Thought Processes

Rule 12: We Learn by Exploring

Babies are born with intense curiosity and demonstrate early use of the scientific method.

Brains also continue to change in response to new experiences. This is an evolutionary necessity. The ability of the brain to process new experiences helps us to realize when we’ve made dangerous errors and to learn not to repeat them.

People never stop wanting to learn.

Brain Rules |
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