Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School – by John Medina

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Exercise – Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power.

Our ancestors waked an average of 12 miles a day.
We evolved to think while on the move.

We went from climbing trees to wandering the savanas looking for food.
Exercise increases your body’s ability to deliver nutrients to your brain
BDNF proteins are created when exercising and it acts like miracle grow for brain cells.
Exercise feeds the brain delivering more glucose and oxygen and other nutrients.
Sitting all day is bad, treadmill desk is good.
We think more effectively and perform more optimally when exercising.
Exercise helps concentration, impulse control, foresight, and problem solving.
Exercise will help you age better – you will have better mental and physical health in your later years.
Exercise will help you live longer – all other things being equal.
Aerobic exercise will halve your risk of general dementia an reduce risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%.
Exercise can counter depression and anxiety, reduce risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes.
Even just 30 min, 2 to 3 times a week walking can show health benefits. But more is better.
You can survive 30 days without food, 1 week without water, but only 5 minutes without oxygen
Fun fact: the brain can only fire about 2% of its neurons at any given time – otherwise so much oxygen and glucose would be consumed that you would faint.

Survival – Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too.
Triune brain theory: we have 3 brains, the lizard, mammalian, and human brains.
We adapted to change, went from trees to the savana.
2 legs uses less energy and frees up our hands to perform other tasks.
About 45,000 years ago we had an explosion of capabilities (mental). Scientists suspect bad weather caused us to struggle to survive, making us use our brains to adapt. Seems that we all grow when we face adversity.
(reference Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel)
Goldilocks effect, there was a window of opportunity.
We may have dwindled to as few as 2000 or less at one point.
Humans survived because we could use negotiations, teamwork and cooperation.
Our imagination gave us a powerful tool to edge out the competition.
Ability to learn rapidly from mistakes is a powerful brain capability.
Symbolic reasoning is a uniquely human talent. Resulting from depth and complexity of human interactions. Understand one anothers intentions.

Wiring – Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently.
We have experience-independent, hard wired circuits such as control of heart rate, breathing, digestion.
Some areas are predictable
Some paths are hardwired like a highway. As the paths get narrow it becomes more experience-dependent.
Our experiences wire our brains. and everyone has different experiences.
Experience-dependent wiring is how we learn, this is the blank sheet of paper.
The brain rewires as it learns. No 2 people have the same brain because of that.
The Jennifer Aniston neuron is a metaphor for experience-dependent wiring in the brain.
Michael Jordan vs. Ken Griffy Jr.
Multiple intelligence theory. IQ is only one way to indicate intelligence.
Frames of mind, The theory of multiple intelligences. By Howard Gardner
Multiple intelligences: Verbal/linguistic, musical/rhythmic, logical/mathematical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic,interpersonal, and intrapersonal.
Small class size and customized instruction is most effective because everyones brain is at different stages of learning.

Attention – Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things.
The more attention we pay the better we learn and remember.
Culture influences context and how we interpret.
Novel stimuli attracts attention and creates interest.
The brain can focus on only one thing at a time, no multitasking.
The brain has universal arousers, can we eat it, will it eat us, can we mate with it, and have we seen this before.
Emotional arousal helps the brain learn.
Attention span has a 10 minute maximum on average. People need breaks between 10 minute sessions. Hook that triggers an emotion, be relevant, make forward looking or reviews. Hooks can be antecdotes based on the material.
We are better at recognizing patterns than we are at remembering details.
Start with the key ideas and form details around them.

Short-Term Memory – Rule #5: Repeat to remember.
Process of memories: encoding, storing, retrieving, forgetting
Information coming into the brain is split into fragments and then sent to different locations in the cortex.
How elaborately you initially encode new information will determine how well it’s retained.
The more you repeat something the better it will be remembered. Intervals between repeating matters.
Automatic encoding is when some event happens and you remember it well without exerting effort.
Effortful processing is when you have to work to remember something, like a complex password.
Content is stored separately from its context.
Context-dependent or state-dependent learning – Watch a dance video is different from doing it in real life.
Examples are very effective.
Associations to existing knowledge help learning.
Make a compelling introduction.
Your brain can hold onto about 7 pieces of information using short term memory, but will forget unless it is repeated.
The best way to remember something is if you repeat the sensory conditions that were present when the memory was created.

Long-Term Memory – Rule #6: Remember to repeat.
Weak temporary memories are lost. But those that survive the short term attrition strengthen over time.
Long term memories are formed via a 2-way conversation between the hippocampus and the cortex.
During sleep the neural paths are strengthened.
The relationship between the hippocampus and the cortex lasts for up to 10 years.
After the memory becomes permanent the relationship is broken.
The brain mixes old information with new, associating similar ideas in similar locations of the brain.
Old memories and new ones are stored together. This makes us bad eye witnesses, esp. over time.
To insure memories are retained long-term, the information needs to be repeated, optimally at timed intervals.