Monday, July 28, 2014

On Reading the Brain Rules by John Medina

I recently completed reading the 2009 edition of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School: I’d read a bit of the book prior to our shared reading, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to do so. John

Medina provides great examples to illustrate brain research that supports principles affecting memory and learning. I would say I was familiar with some of the concepts, but most appreciative of the elaboration provided by Dr. Medina.

As I read, I kept thinking about wanting to understand the actual makeup of the brain better at a knowledge level, like I should be making a drawing of the brain and drawing pointers from the various parts to functions Medina was discussing in various chapters. And this reaction ironically came to a peak in Chapter 10 “Vision Trumps everything.” It was then that I also realized the digital version of the book had no visuals whatsoever! I admit, had I been more pro-active, I’d have sought out this helpful site earlier, printed it out and kept it handy:

I also now realize I overlooked a message at the end of each chapter: “To find out more, visit the Brain Rules website. Duh moment. However, having to go outside the text is still distracting from the context.

However, in addition to a lecture by Dr. Medina, you’ll also find an illustrated guide to the the 12 principles:


In the recent past, I had the rewarding experience of hearing a couple presentations from Patricia Rand, teaching and learning professionl and paramedic faculty. She has developed some terrific materials for faculty and students that draw from the rules and the best of media design practices that Medina credits to Richard Mayer’s research in the Brain Rules discussions. Tricia (Patricia) Rand:

View her examples demonstrating the use of multimedia elements and how they support attention (Medina’ Rule 4):


What did I value most from the reading? 1) Retrieval and Repetition are key to building memory but procedural memory and memory used for problem solving do not operate the same way. 2) Timing and using more than one sensory input affect memory 3)Media’s offers potentials worth considering relative to the impact of stress on learning and the role of curiosity (such as teaching parents how to create non-toxic home environments at the time they are expecting a child, about the nurturance of “life-long curiosity.” I am still motivated to increase my ready knowledge of brain functions relative to creating and evaluating instructional experiences (“amygdala,” “hippocampus, “”thalamus,” “cortex,” “sensory integration.”). Nonetheless, the rules are immediately useful guides.