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Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School Paperback – Large Print, March 7, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Multitasking is the great buzz word in business today, but as developmental molecular biologist Medina tells readers in a chapter on attention, the brain can really only focus on one thing at a time. This alone is the best argument for not talking on your cellphone while driving. Medina (The Genetic Inferno) presents readers with a basket containing an even dozen good principles on how the brain works and how we can use them to our benefit at home and work. The author says our visual sense trumps all other senses, so pump up those PowerPoint presentations with graphics. The author says that we don't sleep to give our brain a rest—studies show our neurons firing furiously away while the rest of the body is catching a few z's. While our brain indeed loses cells as we age, it compensates so that we continue to be able to learn well into our golden years. Many of these findings and minutiae will be familiar to science buffs, but the author employs an appealing style, with suggestions on how to apply his principles, which should engage all readers. DVD not seen by PW.(Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Oliver Sacks meets Getting Things Done." --- Cory Doctorow, co-editor of Boing Boing --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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.
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.
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The book provides 12 Brain Rules that range from the brain's need for exercise to the brain's tendency to get pictures better than words. The author often gives comprehensive explanations for why the rules are the way they are, explaining the brain's anatomy and/or evolutionary changes. Combined with the "ideas" section at the end of each chapter, where the author explores alternative ways to implement these rules in real life, these in-depth explanations provided me with many new ideas to improve my own brain.
However given the comprehensive nature of the book, after finishing the book I was surprised to notice one very important component missing from the entire book - nutrition.
For anyone who has serious interests in health and wellbeing, it is a well-known fact that all the exercises and other efforts will be a waste, if you don't take care of your diet. The reverse is also true, but nutrition plays the biggest role in our wellbeing.
The complete lack of information on nutrition's role in our brain's health in this book is a disappointment and the reason why I rate it only 4 stars. Otherwise, a 5 star reading.