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Book Review: Brain Rules – 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Home, Work and School

I recently read Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. I originally picked this up as a result of it showing up as a recommended item in my Amazon Recommendations. I initially looked at the first chapter – one that talks about all the benefits of exercise and the brain. This struck a chord with me and I decided I wanted to read more. Notice that the hyperlink to ‘exercise’ above goes to – the book’s companion site with additional content and videos to help reinforce topics from the book.

The book goes on in detail to discuss the differences between how short term and long term memories work (and tricks to help improve them), differences between male and female brains, and a host of other interesting topics. At times the material is dry – Medina uses the medical terms for the different areas of the brain. If you’re not into that or wanting to go to that depth, it can become difficult to follow. If you hold on through a few pages of this at a time, you will be rewarded with a rather informative read.

There are numerous takeaways I had from this book that helped me understand more about myself. Here are a few:

  1. The brain can only focus on something for about 10 minutes at a time. It then needs a diversion.
  2. Exercise increases brain function / power and significantly decreases the risk of dementia. That brings new meaning to the saying “Running is cheaper than therapy.”
  3. Sleep is vital to committing what has been learned to memory. The brain is very active while you are sleeping.
  4. Multitasking is a fallacy. You are only able to focus on 1 thing at a time. If you are familiar with single core computing, you will recognize what we refer to as multitasking (conference call and email at the same time) is actually pre-emptive multitasking.


  1. Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power
  2. Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too
  3. Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently
  4. Rule #4: We don’t pay attention to boring things
  5. Rule #5: Repeat to remember
  6. Rule #6: Remember to repeat
  7. Rule #7: Sleep well, think well
  8. Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way
  9. Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses
  10. Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses
  11. Rule #11: Male and female brains are different
  12. Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers


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