Book: Brain Rules by John Medina

„The brain appears to be designed to (1) solve problems (2) related to surviving (3) in an unstable outdoor environment, and (4) to do so in nearly constant motion. I call this the brain’s performance envelope.”

We tend to perceive the human brain as a magical box that does its own thing regardless of the physical limitation. In some sense it is just that – It’s power is amazing and wonderful, but its also a part of our body.

Amazon Link

When we came down from the trees to the savannah, we did not say to ourselves, “Good Lord, give me a book and a lecture and a board of directors so that I can spend 10 years learning how to survive in this place.”

We often forget that It has needs and physical limitations drawing from the fact that it’s an organ like any other. John Medina is a molecular biologist that studied how the brain has developed and how it works. He came to the conclusion, that there are 12 rules. On how the brain operates:

  1. The human brain evolved, too.
  2. Exercise boosts brain power.
  3. Sleep well, think well.
  4. Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
  5. Every brain is wired differently.
  6. We don’t pay attention to boring things.
  7. Repeat to remember.
  8. Stimulate more of the senses.
  9. Vision trumps all other senses.
  10. Study or listen to boost cognition.
  11. Male and female brains are different.
  12. We are powerful and natural explorers.

Education system

„Taken together, what do the studies in this book show? Mostly this: 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.”

It is just mind-boggling how every aspect of the school system is NOT designed to help kids learn. An almost every single one of these brain rules is violated.
What could we do to make it a little better?

  • Give space to move
  • Design to hold attention in 10-minute increments.
    • Start with key ideas to outline what you are explaining and then dive into details
    • „I decided that every lecture I’d ever give would be organized in segments and that each segment would last only 10 minutes. Each segment would cover a single core concept—always large, always general, and always explainable in one minute.”
  • Design for spaced repetition
  • Stimulate multiple senses at the same time, with relevant information. „Funny” illustrations don’t count. What you are complimenting, has to be relevant or it distracts.

There is an argument to be made for same-sex classes. Girls and Boys learn in a different way and Boys competitiveness may get in the way of Girls collaborative approach to learning math&science and vice versa for human sciences.

My Kindle Highlights

  • Exercise boosts brain power.
  • Sleep well, think well.
  • The brain appears to be designed to (1) solve problems (2) related to surviving (3) in an unstable outdoor environment, and (4) to do so in nearly constant motion. I call this the brain’s performance envelope.
  • Taken together, what do the studies in this book show? Mostly this: 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.
  • Then World War I happened. It was the first major conflict where medical advances allowed large numbers of combatants to survive shrapnel injuries.
  • The solution? Give birth while the baby’s head is small enough to fit through the birth canal. The problem? You create childhood.
  • One of the greatest predictors of successful aging, they found, is the presence or absence of a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Put simply, if you are a couch potato, you are more likely to age like Jim, if you make it to your 80s at all. If you have an active lifestyle, you are more likely to age like Frank Lloyd Wright—and much more likely to make it to your 90s.
  • A lifetime of exercise results in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary.
  • In the laboratory, the gold standard appears to be aerobic exercise, 30 minutes at a clip, two or three times a week. Add a strengthening regimen and you get even more cognitive benefit.
  • https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/08/how-steve-jobs-odd-habit-can-help-you-brainstorm-ideas.html
  • The main function of oxygen is to act like an efficient electron-absorbing sponge.
  • Physical activity is cognitive candy. Civilization, while giving us such seemingly forward advances as modern medicine and spatulas, also has had a nasty side effect. It gives us more opportunities to sit on our butts.
  • Our brains were built for walking—12 miles a day!
  • To improve your thinking skills, move.
  • Exercise gets blood to your brain, bringing it glucose for energy and oxygen to soak up the toxic electrons that are left over. It also stimulates the protein that keeps neurons connecting.
  • If you are a public speaker, you already know it is darn near fatal to give a talk in the midafternoon.
  • One NASA study showed that a 26-minute nap reduced a flight crew’s lapses in awareness by 34 percent, compared to a control group who didn’t nap.
  • Mendeleyev says he came up with the idea in his sleep. Contemplating the nature of the universe while playing solitaire one evening, he nodded off. When he awoke, he knew how all of the atoms in the universe were organized, and he promptly created his famous table. Interestingly, he organized the atoms in repeating groups of seven, just the way you play solitaire.
  • A business of the future takes sleep schedules seriously.
  • •   Loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and even motor dexterity.
  • As long as there is enough BDNF around, stress hormones cannot do their damage.
  • One of the greatest predictors of performance in school turns out to be the emotional stability of the home.
  • The perfect storm of occupational stress appears to be a combination of two factors: (1) a great deal is expected of you, and (2) you have no control over whether you will perform well.
  • Gottman and fellow researcher Alyson Shapiro an idea. What if he deployed his proven marital intervention strategies to married couples while the wife was pregnant?
  • Individually, the worst kind of stress is the feeling that you have no control over the problem—you are helpless.
  • The brains of wild animals were 15 to 30 percent larger than those of their tame, domestic counterparts.
  • The surface of your skin, for example—all nine pounds of it—literally is deceased.
  • It is accurate to say that nearly every inch of your outer physical presentation to the world is dead.
  • Neurons go through a growth spurt and pruning project during the terrible twos and teen years.
  • “typically, attention increases from the beginning of the lecture to 10 minutes into the lecture and decreases after that point.”
  • Find a way to get and hold somebody’s attention for 10 minutes, then do it again.
  • What we can say for sure is that when your brain detects an emotionally charged event, your amygdala (a part of your brain that helps create and maintain emotions) releases the chemical dopamine into your system. Dopamine greatly aids memory and information processing.
  • If you want people to be able to pay attention, don’t start with details. Start with the key ideas and, in a hierarchical fashion, form the details around these larger notions. Meaning before details. The
  • Step 1: Shift alert
  • Step 2: Rule activation for task #1
  • Step 3: Disengagement
  • Step 4: Rule activation for task #2
  • I decided that every lecture I’d ever give would be organized in segments, and that each segment would last only 10 minutes. Each segment would cover a single core concept—always large, always general, and always explainable in one minute.
  • Give the general idea first, before diving into details, and you will see a 40 percent improvement in understanding.
  • 1) The hook has to trigger an emotion.
  • 2) The hook has to be relevant.
  • 3) The hook has to go between segments.
  • Audiences check out after 10 minutes, but you can keep grabbing them back by telling narratives or creating events rich in emotion.
  • One does not recall how to ride a bike in the same way one recalls nine numbers in a certain order.
  • 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.
  • It is called the “binding problem,” from the idea that certain thoughts are bound together in the brain to provide continuity.
  • The more closely we replicate the conditions at the moment of learning, the easier the remembering.
  • The more a learner focuses on the meaning of information being presented, the more elaborately he or she will process the information.
  • professional chess world’s first real rock star: Miguel Najdorf.
  • The typical human brain can hold about seven pieces of new information for less than 30 seconds!
  • Repetitions must be spaced out, not crammed in
  • System consolidation, the process of transforming a short-term memory into a long-term one, can take years to complete.
  • such a positive effect on learning that it forms the heart of Brain Rule #8: Stimulate more of the senses at the same time.
  • The Americans—steeped in the traditions of nothing—used guerrilla tactics:
  • Every sensory system must send a signal to the thalamus asking permission to connect to the higher levels of the brain where perception occurs—except for smell.
  • No matter how many times they did this, the visual portion of the brain always lighted up the strongest when the tactile response was paired with it. They could literally get a 30 percent boost in the visual system by introducing touch. This effect is called multimodal reinforcement.
  • The experimental group takes the test in a room smelling of popcorn. The second group blows away the first group in terms of number of events recalled, accuracy of events recalled, specific details, and so on. In some cases, they can accurately retrieve twice as many memories as the controls.
  • It works if you’re emotionally aroused—usually, that means mildly stressed—before the experiment begins. For some reason, showing a film of young Australian aboriginal males being circumcised is a favorite way to do this.
  • Multimedia principle: Students learn better from words and pictures than from words alone. Temporal contiguity principle: Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively. Spatial contiguity principle: Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented near to each other rather than far from each other on the page or screen. Coherence principle: Students learn better when extraneous material is excluded rather than included. Modality principle: Students learn better from animation and narration than from animation and on-screen text.
  • Stimulate more of the senses at the same time.
  • This means you can damage the region of the brain in charge of, say, motion, and get an extraordinary deficit. You’d be able to see and identify objects quite clearly, but not tell whether the objects are stationary or moving. This happened to a patient known to scientists as L.M. It’s called cerebral akinetopsia, or motion blindness. L.M. perceives a moving object as a progressive series of still snapshots—like looking at an animator’s drawings one page at a time. This can be quite hazardous. When L.M. crosses the street, for example, she can see a car, but she does not know if it is actually coming at her.
  • As the complexity of objects in our world increases, we are capable of remembering fewer objects over our lifetimes.
  • Pictorial information may be initially more attractive to consumers, in part because it takes less effort to comprehend.
  • Vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain’s resources.
  • Music training improves something useful for academics, right? Yes: spatiotemporal reasoning.
  • biochemical. It is a surprisingly well-established fact that music can induce hormonal changes. These changes result in alterations of mood.
  • He and his colleagues have found that when people hear their very favorite music (I mean spine-tingling, awe-inspiring, fly-me-to-the-moon music), their bodies dump dopamine into a specific part of their brain.
  • music that gives you goose bumps (called “musical frisson”),
  • During World War I, hospitals in the UK employed musicians to play for wounded soldiers in convalescence.
  • Formal musical training improves intellectual skills in several cognitive domains. Music boosts spatiotemporal skills, vocabulary, picking out sounds in a noisy environment, working memory, and sensory-motor skills.
  • This means that cells in the female embryo are a complex mosaic of both active and inactive mom-and-pop X genes.
  • Exercise boosts brain power.
  • Sleep well, think well.
  • The brain appears to be designed to (1) solve problems (2) related to surviving (3) in an unstable outdoor environment, and (4) to do so in nearly constant motion. I call this the brain’s performance envelope.
  • Taken together, what do the studies in this book show? Mostly this: 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.
  • Then World War I happened. It was the first major conflict where medical advances allowed large numbers of combatants to survive shrapnel injuries.
  • The solution? Give birth while the baby’s head is small enough to fit through the birth canal. The problem? You create childhood.
  • One of the greatest predictors of successful aging, they found, is the presence or absence of a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Put simply, if you are a couch potato, you are more likely to age like Jim, if you make it to your 80s at all. If you have an active lifestyle, you are more likely to age like Frank Lloyd Wright—and much more likely to make it to your 90s.
  • A lifetime of exercise results in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary.
  • In the laboratory, the gold standard appears to be aerobic exercise, 30 minutes at a clip, two or three times a week. Add a strengthening regimen and you get even more cognitive benefit.
  • Your lifetime risk for general dementia is literally cut in half if you participate in physical activity. Aerobic exercise seems to be the key. With Alzheimer’s, the effect is even greater: Such exercise reduces your odds of getting the disease by more than 60 percent. How
  • The main function of oxygen is to act like an efficient electron-absorbing sponge.
  • Physical activity is cognitive candy. Civilization, while giving us such seemingly forward advances as modern medicine and spatulas, also has had a nasty side effect. It gives us more opportunities to sit on our butts.
  • Our brains were built for walking—12 miles a day!
  • To improve your thinking skills, move.
  • Exercise gets blood to your brain, bringing it glucose for energy and oxygen to soak up the toxic electrons that are left over. It also stimulates the protein that keeps neurons connecting.
  • If you are a public speaker, you already know it is darn near fatal to give a talk in the midafternoon.
  • One NASA study showed that a 26-minute nap reduced a flight crew’s lapses in awareness by 34 percent, compared to a control group who didn’t nap.
  • Mendeleyev says he came up with the idea in his sleep. Contemplating the nature of the universe while playing solitaire one evening, he nodded off. When he awoke, he knew how all of the atoms in the universe were organized, and he promptly created his famous table. Interestingly, he organized the atoms in repeating groups of seven, just the way you play solitaire.
  • A business of the future takes sleep schedules seriously.
  • Given the data about a good night’s rest, organizations might tackle their most intractable problems by having the entire “solving team” go on a mini-retreat. Once arrived, employees would be presented with the problem and asked to think about solutions. But they would not start coming to conclusions, or even begin sharing ideas with each other, before they had slept about eight hours. When they awoke, would the same increase in problem-solving rates available in the lab also be available to that team? It’s worth finding out.
  • •   Loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and even motor dexterity.
  • As long as there is enough BDNF around, stress hormones cannot do their damage.
  • One of the greatest predictors of performance in school turns out to be the emotional stability of the home.
  • The perfect storm of occupational stress appears to be a combination of two factors: (1) a great deal is expected of you, and (2) you have no control over whether you will perform well.
  • Gottman and fellow researcher Alyson Shapiro an idea. What if he deployed his proven marital intervention strategies to married couples while the wife was pregnant?
  • Individually, the worst kind of stress is the feeling that you have no control over the problem—you are helpless.
  • The brains of wild animals were 15 to 30 percent larger than those of their tame, domestic counterparts.
  • The surface of your skin, for example—all nine pounds of it—literally is deceased.
  • It is accurate to say that nearly every inch of your outer physical presentation to the world is dead.
  • Neurons go through a growth spurt and pruning project during the terrible twos and teen years.
  • “typically, attention increases from the beginning of the lecture to 10 minutes into the lecture and decreases after that point.”
  • Find a way to get and hold somebody’s attention for 10 minutes, then do it again.
  • What we can say for sure is that when your brain detects an emotionally charged event, your amygdala (a part of your brain that helps create and maintain emotions) releases the chemical dopamine into your system. Dopamine greatly aids memory and information processing.
  • If you want people to be able to pay attention, don’t start with details. Start with the key ideas and, in a hierarchical fashion, form the details around these larger notions. Meaning before details. The
  • Step 1: Shift alert
  • Step 2: Rule activation for task #1
  • Step 3: Disengagement
  • Step 4: Rule activation for task #2
  • I decided that every lecture I’d ever give would be organized in segments, and that each segment would last only 10 minutes. Each segment would cover a single core concept—always large, always general, and always explainable in one minute.
  • Give the general idea first, before diving into details, and you will see a 40 percent improvement in understanding.
  • 1) The hook has to trigger an emotion.
  • 2) The hook has to be relevant.
  • 3) The hook has to go between segments.
  • Audiences check out after 10 minutes, but you can keep grabbing them back by telling narratives or creating events rich in emotion.
  • One does not recall how to ride a bike in the same way one recalls nine numbers in a certain order.
  • 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.
  • It is called the “binding problem,” from the idea that certain thoughts are bound together in the brain to provide continuity.
  • The more closely we replicate the conditions at the moment of learning, the easier the remembering.
  • The more a learner focuses on the meaning of information being presented, the more elaborately he or she will process the information.
  • professional chess world’s first real rock star: Miguel Najdorf.
  • The typical human brain can hold about seven pieces of new information for less than 30 seconds!
  • Repetitions must be spaced out, not crammed in
  • System consolidation, the process of transforming a short-term memory into a long-term one, can take years to complete.
  • such a positive effect on learning that it forms the heart of Brain Rule #8: Stimulate more of the senses at the same time.
  • The Americans—steeped in the traditions of nothing—used guerrilla tactics:
  • Every sensory system must send a signal to the thalamus asking permission to connect to the higher levels of the brain where perception occurs—except for smell.
  • No matter how many times they did this, the visual portion of the brain always lighted up the strongest when the tactile response was paired with it. They could literally get a 30 percent boost in the visual system by introducing touch. This effect is called multimodal reinforcement.
  • The experimental group takes the test in a room smelling of popcorn. The second group blows away the first group in terms of number of events recalled, accuracy of events recalled, specific details, and so on. In some cases, they can accurately retrieve twice as many memories as the controls.
  • It works if you’re emotionally aroused—usually, that means mildly stressed—before the experiment begins. For some reason, showing a film of young Australian aboriginal males being circumcised is a favorite way to do this.
  • Multimedia principle: Students learn better from words and pictures than from words alone. Temporal contiguity principle: Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively. Spatial contiguity principle: Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented near to each other rather than far from each other on the page or screen. Coherence principle: Students learn better when extraneous material is excluded rather than included. Modality principle: Students learn better from animation and narration than from animation and on-screen text.
  • Stimulate more of the senses at the same time.
  • This means you can damage the region of the brain in charge of, say, motion, and get an extraordinary deficit. You’d be able to see and identify objects quite clearly, but not tell whether the objects are stationary or moving. This happened to a patient known to scientists as L.M. It’s called cerebral akinetopsia, or motion blindness. L.M. perceives a moving object as a progressive series of still snapshots—like looking at an animator’s drawings one page at a time. This can be quite hazardous. When L.M. crosses the street, for example, she can see a car, but she does not know if it is actually coming at her.
  • As the complexity of objects in our world increases, we are capable of remembering fewer objects over our lifetimes.
  • Pictorial information may be initially more attractive to consumers, in part because it takes less effort to comprehend.
  • Vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain’s resources.
  • Music training improves something useful for academics, right? Yes: spatiotemporal reasoning.
  • biochemical. It is a surprisingly well-established fact that music can induce hormonal changes. These changes result in alterations of mood.
  • He and his colleagues have found that when people hear their very favorite music (I mean spine-tingling, awe-inspiring, fly-me-to-the-moon music), their bodies dump dopamine into a specific part of their brain.
  • music that gives you goose bumps (called “musical frisson”),
  • During World War I, hospitals in the UK employed musicians to play for wounded soldiers in convalescence.
  • Formal musical training improves intellectual skills in several cognitive domains. Music boosts spatiotemporal skills, vocabulary, picking out sounds in a noisy environment, working memory, and sensory-motor skills.
  • This means that cells in the female embryo are a complex mosaic of both active and inactive mom-and-pop X genes.
  • 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.
  • Boys might say, “Do this.” Girls would say, “Let’s do this.” Styles
  • 1) Emotions are useful. They make the brain pay attention. 2) Men and women process certain emotions differently. 3) The differences are a product of complex interactions between nature and nurture.
  • Previously a strong advocate for mixed-sex classes, the teacher wondered aloud if that made any sense. Yet if the girls started losing the math-and-science battle in the third grade, the teacher reasoned, they were not likely to excel in the coming years. She obliged. It took only two weeks to close the performance gap.
  • Men and women respond differently to acute stress: Women activate the left hemisphere’s amygdala and remember the emotional details. Men activate the right hemisphere’s amygdala and get the gist.
  • Babies are born with a deep desire to understand the world around them and an incessant curiosity that compels them to aggressively explore it.
  • When we came down from the trees to the savannah, we did not say to ourselves, “Good Lord, give me a book and a lecture and a board of directors so that I can spend 10 years learning how to survive in this place.”
  • Extraordinarily, my mother was waiting. Just as quickly as my whim changed, the house
  • I firmly believe that if children are allowed to remain curious, they will continue to deploy their natural tendencies to discover and explore until they are 101.

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