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Brain Rules

By Ron Pereira Published on March 30th, 2009

The human brain fascinates me. As such, I was very excited to finally read Brain Rules by John Medina.

In this book Medina proposes 12 different rules, that once understood, may help us all to be happier and more productive individuals.

Here is a quick summary of the 12 rules. At the end of the article will be an awesome slide show created by Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen fame.

  • Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power. Medina proposes that the most effective meetings would be ones where all attendees walked 1.8 miles per hour.
  • Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too. Medina proposes, “There is no greater anti-brain environment than the classroom and cubicle.”
  • Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently. Each time we learn something our brain is literally re-wired. Medina also claims the categories of intelligence may number more than 7 billion!
  • Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things. Microsoft is to blame for this as their famous “PowerPoint” software has resulted in far more boring meetings than anyone should have to deal with. Stop reading the slides man!
  • Rule #5: Repeat to remember. As powerful as they are, most human brains can only hold around seven pieces of information for less than 30 seconds. To remember we must repeat things… a lot.
  • Rule #6: Remember to repeat. Medina claims that our schools are currently designed so that most real learning has to occur at home.
  • Rule #7: Sleep well, think well. In one study, a 26-minute nap improved NASA pilots’ performance by 34 percent.
  • Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way. Medina claims that the emotional stability of our homes plays a huge part in how our children learn.
  • Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses. Ever wonder why, if you like coffee, walking into a Starbucks makes you feel happy? Smell. That’s why.
  • Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses. Bullet points are so 1998… use images and simple phrases to get your point across in your presentations.
  • Rule #11: Male and female brains are different. Show a man a slasher film and his right brain lights up… while a woman’s left brain goes into overdrive. Same movie, different reactions.
  • Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers. We humans love to explore and learn new things even if crammed inside a cubicle 40 hours a week!

  1. Brian Campbell

    April 3, 2009 - 7:44 am

    Regarding his 1st rule, “most effective meetings would be ones where all attendees walked 1.8 miles per hour.”

    I know of a small company where every office employee has a treadmill at their desk. They stand and walk 1.8 miles/hour for most of the day! They have desks mounted chest high, so computers & phones are easy to use. The CEO says everyone has lost weight, and their work efficiency has soared. Now that’s progressive!

  2. Ron Pereira

    April 3, 2009 - 7:47 am

    Very cool, Brian! Thanks for sharing this.

  3. anand

    April 15, 2009 - 12:21 am

    yeah, heard all along that male brain is different from female brain.
    but wonder whether that’s due to “nature” or “nurture”!

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