Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School – by John Medina
See all the videos and much more on his web site->
Online brain-booster games: I’ve tried lumosity, it’s a pay service but you can try it for free. I didn’t try brainHQ yet but it looks similar.


Sleep – Rule #7: Sleep well, think well.
Cells in the brain are in a constant state of tension between trying to stay awake and sleep.
Neurons in the brain show vigorous rhythmical activity during sleep.
Memory consolidation occurs during sleep as the hippocampus talks to the cortex.
Biological drive for an afternoon nap is universal.
Amount of sleep needed varies from person to person.
Lack of sleep is impairs things such as: ability to pay attention, executive function, memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning and motor dexterity.
Nodding off and strong urges to nap are signs of sleep deprivation.
1 in 10 is a morning person, 2 in 10 is a night owl. The rest are a range in between.
— Additional tips from Super Smart Guy
➡ NPR article on sleep and health.
Avoid caffeinated beverages after noon (or whatever time works for you), can impair ability to sleep.
Save the bedroom for only 2 activities, one being sleep.
Light (blue light) tends to stimulate alertness in people, avoid lights and monitors/screens before bed.
Alcohol and other drugs can affect the quality of your sleep.
Lack of sleep impairs your ability to learn, so when studying try to get good sleep!
Sleep apnea and other disorders can impact sleep and prevent REM, impairing performance in waking hours.
Consult a qualified sleep clinic if you have problems sleeping.

Stress – Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
Stress releases adrenaline and cortisol among other stress hormones into the blood stream.
These hormones are needed for heightened awareness and ability – fight or flight.
Prolonged exposure to these hormones causes damage to the heart, blood vessels, and brain.
Reference: Why Zebras Don’t Have Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky
One of the worst kinds of stress is learned helplessness.
Emotional stress takes a huge toll on productivity with students and workers.
Stress at home has a huge impact to children.

Sensory Integration – Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses.
Brains rely on past experiences when determining how to combine the senses.
We evolved to use integrated senses to form information.
We see a predator, can hear one approach, can smell them coming, feel the wind or ground.
Senses are stimulated, the perceived information is converted to signals.
The signals go to the different parts of the brain. (routing)
The signals are processed and converge to form a perception.
Synesthesia, some people can smell numbers or taste colors.
Multimedia – we learn better from the use of both visual and auditory stimulation.
Temporal contiguity principal – we learn better when the sound and visuals are presented simultaneously.
Spatial contiguity principal – we learn better when the sound and visuals are in close proximation.
Coherence principal – leave out irrelevant information.
Modality principal – we learn better from visuals and sound rather than visuals with subtitles.
Employees in Starbucks are not allowed to wear perfume because it can interfere with the coffee smell.
Certain smells have specific influences on us. Vanilla in the women’s department store.
Smells bypass the thalamus and go directly to their destinations, including the amygdala.
Smell was used to determine if food was spoiled, sent of prey, and involved with mating.

NPR articleHow Sound Shaped The Evolution Of Your Brain

Vision – Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.
Wine professionals were given white wine with red food coloring and went on to describe it using all the vocabulary used to describe red wines.
Pictures is much more effective to communicate than words alone.
Hear something and one remembers 10% of the information, add a picture and it increases to 65%.
Humans are visual creatures. Vision takes up half the brains resources.
The amount of information taken in visually is much more than that of the other senses.
Reading requires each letter to be interpreted as a separate picture, this takes a lot of overhead processing, making it the least efficient method of communicating.

Gender – Rule #11: Male and female brains are different.
During acute stress:
– For men, primarily take in the gist of things (big picture).
– For women, primarily focus in on the emotional details.
Men and women perform exactly the opposite in this regard.
Y chromosome from dad has only 100 genes.
X chromosome from mom has only 1500 genes.
X chromosome – men have 1 and women have 2, contain a large percentage of brain related proteins.
Men have a larger amygdala and produce more serotonin. Significance of this is undetermined.
Girls make a lot of eye contact and use talking to cement relationships.
Boys avoid direct eye contact and use more physical activities to cement relationships.
Boys compete to cooperate. May come from competition to be alpha male.
Assertive women perceived as “unfriendly” and same assertive men perceived as a “leader” or “strong”.

Note: Men are from Mars Women are from Venus: Men want to solve the problem and women want you to listen and empathize. These are generalities, and people vary to different degrees.

Exploration – Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers.
Classrooms and businesses are not designed to allow us to use our brains optimally.
Classrooms haven’t changed much in centuries.
Education should be brain development.
The workplace should understand how the brain works.
Always be curious, like how children explore the world.
Our curiosity and desire for exploration is how we learned as a species.
Humans go through different stages of learning methods as we age.
Mirror neurons – we imitate to learn.
Neural plasticity – adult brains stay malleable.