Minor Thoughts

In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

Review: Brain Rules [★★★★☆]

Brain Rules Cover Art

Brain Rules
by John Medina

My rating: ★★★★☆
Read From: 07 December 2013 — 25 December 2013

I majored in Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. While there, I took a course called Human Information Processing. We studied how the brain works, how people perceive information, how they store information, how they remember, etc. It was fascinating and gave me many good insights into how I could help myself — and others — learn.

Brain Rules is a layman’s version of my college course. Medina concisely and entertainingly walks us through things that we know — or think we know — about how the brain works. He’s careful to only relay information that’s been confirmed by multiple independent experiments. He clearly distinguishes between what we’re pretty sure we know and what we only suspect or guess at.

He starts out by emphasizing the importance of exercising to brain function. It persuaded me to start walking more and to look for more ways to become more active. He included a startling statistic: doing aerobic exercise just twice a week halves your risk of general dementia. It cuts your risk of Alzheimer’s by 60 percent.

He also focuses on education and learning. For instance, the brain’s attentional “spotlight” can only focus on one thing at a time (rule #4). We’re incapable of multitasking. And we are better at seeing patterns and abstracting the meaning of an event than we are at recording detail. These facts suggest new ways for teachers to educate students.

Teachers need to make classes interesting, so that students’ minds don’t wander to other things, tuning out the class. And teachers need to put content into patterns that students can see, rather than just giving students a hodgepodge of facts.

I found each chapter to be interesting and thought provoking. I can definitely recommend it as a way to learn more about yourself and how to optimize your life.