Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina is an amazing read. Everybody has a brain and do we give it a thought how this amazing machine called Brain works. Man kind have always been curious what goes inside our brain and how it works. The author gives us 12 Rules for optimizing our brain so that we can efficiently work at home and work. The 12 Rules given by author are:
Rule #1 Exercise boosts brain power.
• Everybody know this tip. Almost every doctor keeps on repeating this rule but the author has stated the reasons why this is true? According to author our brains were built for walking—12 miles a day! when we were hunters and gatherers in forests.
• Exercise improves our thinking skills and it gets blood to your brain, bringing it glucose for energy and oxygen to soak up the free radicals.
• Exercise also reduces the risk of diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer, Parkinsons etc.
Rule #2 The human brain evolved, too.
• The author states that we don’t have one brain in our heads; we have three.We started with a “lizard brain” to keep us breathing, then added a brain like a cat’s, and then topped that with a thin layer of the cortex—the third, and powerful,“human” brain.
• The author states that this evolution has taken place when we were walking on four legs to two and our complex brain helped us to adapt to new changes and new environment.
Rule #3 Every brain is wired differently.
• We are unique hence the author states that the various regions of the brain develop at different rates in different people.
• No two people’s brains store the same information in the same way in the same place.
• We have a great number of ways of being intelligent, many of which don’t show up on IQ tests.
Rule #4 People don’t pay attention to boring things.
• Our better can focus on only one thing at a time: no multitasking.
• We are better at seeing patterns and abstracting the meaning of an event than we are at recording detail.
• Our attention span is 10 Minutes hence to engage audiences present them narratives or create events rich in emotion.
Rule #5 Repeat to remember.
• Right from the beginning of our school years our teachers asks us to repeat the things for better remembering it.
•The brain has many types of memory systems. One type follows four stages of processing: encoding, storing, retrieving, and forgetting.
• You can improve your chances of remembering something if you reproduce the environment in which you first put it into your brain.
Rule #6 Remember to repeat.
• Most memories disappear within minutes, but those that survive the fragile period strengthen with time.
• Long-term memories are formed in a two-way conversation between the hippocampus and the cortex, until the hippocampus breaks the connection and the memory is fixed in the cortex—which can take years.
• The way to make long-term memory more reliable is to incorporate new information gradually and repeat it in timed intervals.
Rule #7 Sleep well, think well.
• The brain is in a constant state of tension between cells and chemicals that try to put you to sleep and try to keep you awake.
• The neurons of your brain show vigorous activity when you’re asleep—perhaps replaying what you learned that day.
• People vary in how much sleep they need and when they prefer to get it, but the biological drive for an afternoon nap is universal.
• Loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and even motor dexterity.
Rule #8 Stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
• Your body’s defense system—the release of adrenaline and cortisol—is built for an immediate response to a serious but passing danger, such as a saber-toothed tiger.
• Under chronic stress, adrenaline creates scars in your blood vessels that can cause a heart attack or stroke, and cortisol damages the cells of the hippocampus, crippling your ability to learn and remember.
• Individually, the worst kind of stress is the feeling that you have no control over the problem—you are helpless.
Rule #9 Stimulate more of the senses at the same time.
• We absorb information about an event through our senses, translate it into electrical signals (some for sight, others from sound, etc.), disperse those signals to separate parts of the brain, then reconstruct what happened, eventually perceiving the event as a whole.
• The brain seems to rely partly on past experience in deciding how to combine these signals, so two people can perceive the same event very differently.
• Our senses evolved to work together—vision influencing hearing, for example—which means that we learn best if we stimulate several senses at once.
• Smells have an unusual power to bring back memories, maybe because smell signals bypass the thalamus and head straight to their destinations, which include that supervisor of emotions known as the amygdala.
Rule #10 Vision trumps all other senses.
• Vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain’s resources.
• What we see is only what our brain tells us we see, and it’s not 100 percent accurate.
• The visual analysis we do has many steps. The retina assembles photons into little movie-like streams of information. The visual cortex processes these streams, some areas registering motion, others registering color, etc. Finally, we combine that information back together so we can see.
• We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words.
• There is saying “A picture is worth thousand words”.
Rule #11 Male and female brains are different
•The X chromosome that males have one of and females have two of—though one acts as a backup—is a cognitive “hot spot,” carrying an unusually large percentage of genes involved in brain manufacture.
• Women are genetically more complex, because the active X chromosomes in their cells are a mix of Mom’s and Dad’s. Men’s X chromosomes all come from Mom, and their Y chromosome carries less than 100 genes, compared with about 1,500 for the X chromosome.
• Men’s and women’s brains are different structurally and biochemically—men have a bigger amygdala and produce serotonin faster, for example—but we don’t know if those differences have significance.
• Men and women respond differently to acute stress:Women activate the left hemisphere’s amygdala and remember the emotional details. Men use the right amygdala and get the gist.
Rule #12 We are powerful and natural explorers.
• Babies are the model of how we learn—not by passive reaction to the environment but by active testing through observation, hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion.
• Specific parts of the brain allow this scientific approach.The right prefrontal cortex looks for errors in our hypothesis (“The saber-toothed tiger is not harmless”), and an adjoining region tells us to change behavior (“Run!”).
• We recognize and imitate behavior because of “mirror neurons” scattered across the brain.
• Some parts of our adult brains stay as malleable as a baby’s, so we can create neurons and learn new things throughout our lives.
I had cited these 12 Rules from the book. I recommend you to read this amazing book. If you are interested further you can visit http://brainrules.net for amazing stuff.