Book Review: Brain Rules by John Medina

Brain Rules

We intuitively understand that there is something wrong with the way we learn and work. How much information from school has completely evaporated from your mind? How often do you feel bored or creatively stifled at work? There are hundreds of books and websites about improving productivity, but few with a scientific foundation. John Medina has written a book that examines the problems facing productivity, learning and teaching, all supported with hard science. He clearly states that every study he cites has been published, peer-reviewed and reproduced.

I discovered this book on Presentation Zen (check out the review to see the slides describing three of the rules and videos by John Medina). It’s been popping up all over the blogshpere ever since.

The book is divided into twelve chapters each describing a brain rule. All the chapters begin by describing some some neurological characteristic, and then explains its implications. Everything is explained using anecdotes and case studies, making it easy to understand and a pleasure to read.

Medina strongly advocates sleep and exercise to increase brain function, and suggests using repetition and stimulating multiple senses to improve knowledge retention (including smell).

I found Medina’s comments about Attention particularly fascinating. He points out that most people stop paying attention to teachers/presentations after about ten minutes. He suggested that every ten minutes you should plan to grab back their attention using a story or by triggering an emotion such as laughter, happiness or nostalgia. Medina uses these techniques in his lectures, which are so successful he was awarded the Hoechst Marion Roussel Teacher of the Year.

If you’re interested in maintaining audiences’ attention, creating memorable messages, and improving your capacity to learn and be productive then you should read this book. Buy it on Amazon.

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