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

There’s still a lot to learn about the brain, but in his book “Brain Rules,” author John Medina dives into 12 things that are already known about how the human brain works. Each rule touches on the science and research that led to discoveries about the brain and how what’s known can be applied to daily life. By looking at how evolution has shaped the brain, this book review will clue you in about how your brain functions, so you’ll have a better idea of how to keep your brain working at its best.

Learn how your brain works and what you can do to help it function better.


  • Wish you could improve your brain’s function
  • Are interested in how evolution affects the modern brain
  • Want to take advantage of brain science to thrive at work, school, or home


This book is partly an academic-style introduction to brain research and partly a jauntily written practical “how-to” about getting the most from your brain. John Medina has a warm, upbeat persona, and skillfully incorporates stories from his experiences to illustrate points he makes in the book. From time to time he forgets to connect the dots for readers who are new to the material, and so doesn’t always articulate the full point or parallel he is making. However, he successfully gives a broad overview of brain research and makes a conscious effort to practice the rules he preaches. He repeats information, as research says he should, and uses lively, varied examples to engage the reader. To reinforce the book’s lessons with visual and aural sensory input, the publisher provides a supplemental DVD. Medina summarizes his key points, and touches briefly on the real-world implications and applications of the findings he covers. We recommend this book to parents, educators, human-resources professionals, executives and all those who want to help themselves, their children or their employees reach their full intellectual potential.

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


  • Your brain may look like a big, soft walnut, but it’s really a beehive of activity.
  • Your brain believes you are still fighting for survival against a saber-toothed tiger.
  • Knowing 12 rules about brain function can help you learn better and stay smarter.
  • Your brain evolved to need exploration and exercise. You are capable of remaining able to learn forever, but physical activity is crucial.
  • No two brains are alike. Male and female brains are distinctly different.
  • People cannot give full attention to dull information.
  • To recall data short-term, “repeat to remember”; to recall it long-term, “remember to repeat.”
  • To be your smartest, sleep well and regularly.
  • Your brain needs information from all your senses, but vision is king.
  • A child’s brain doesn’t function at its best in a conventional classroom trapped in rote learning. Children learn better in a home that is emotionally stable.


Can you multiply 9,978,678 by 2 in your head? There are people who can. And they don’t necessarily have high IQs. The brain works in extraordinary ways. It’s a powerful network of cells that can do incredible things, but most of us don’t have any idea how it works.

Author and brain expert John Medina lists 12 rules about how the brain works and what they mean in our daily lives:

  1. Survival is a basic instinct, and the brain has evolved to help humans survive.
  2. Exercise helps give your brain an extra boost.
  3. Sleep helps your brain work better.
  4. Stress is hard on your brain and makes it more difficult to learn.
  5. Wiring of every brain is different.
  6. Attention of the brain is drawn in by stimulating things.
  7. Memory is built by repeating things to your brain.
  8. Sensory integration comes into play when you stimulate all your senses.
  9. Vision is your most important sense.
  10. Music improves cognition.
  11. Gender affects how brains work.
  12. Exploration is good for the brain.

In this book review, you’ll explore each of these rules and discover ways to harness your brain’s natural functions so you can thrive in any environment.


When it comes to evolution, there are two ways to survive: become stronger or become smarter. Early humans were essentially easy prey, as other animals were faster and stronger, so humans took the smarter route by adding more neurons to their brains. While other animals also developed methods of communication, humans are the only ones who write novels and compose symphonies. This is thanks to the development of the prefrontal cortex, which allows humans to solve problems, pay attention, and restrain their emotions.

One of the key things that sets humans apart from other animals is the ability to interpret symbols. Written language would simply be squiggles on a piece of paper if your brain wasn’t able to translate the symbols into something more. This type of symbolic reasoning contributed to survival by giving early humans systems for warning others about dangerous situations.

Imagine taking on a woolly mammoth by yourself. You’d probably died. To survive, early humans needed to cooperate. The need to work together with others meant understanding their interests as well. Humans are the only animals that can understand the motives of others. They can also manipulate and predict what others will do, an aid to survival — both in ancient times and in the modern world.

Exercise and Sleep

Mental alertness and exercise are directly related. Scientists have found that our ancestors walked or ran up to 20 kilometers a day. As a result, the human brain developed in an environment of constant motion and exercise. Nowadays, it’s easy to fall into a sedentary lifestyle, but our brains haven’t evolved over millions of years to work efficiently in this type of environment. Essentially, if you aren’t moving, your brain isn’t working at its full capacity.

But if you’re a couch potato, don’t fret! Research has also found that it’s not too late for your brain to experience the positive effects of exercise. One study took a group of elderly people who had been living a sedentary lifestyle and had them exercise. In as little as four months of regular aerobic exercise, their mental abilities began to improve. Exercise also helps fight age-related diseases, like dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as mood-related disorders. Doing some form of aerobic exercise twice a week can reduce your risk of these common diseases and disorders by as much as 60%.

In addition, exercise improves blood flow, giving your body an improved system for getting nourishment and oxygen to your brain. Because your brain works better when it has more oxygen, it would make sense for schools and workplaces to find innovative ways to get their students and employees moving more.

Mental alertness and sleep are also directly related. However, when you look at sleep from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes no sense, because sleeping makes you vulnerable to predators. However, sleep is when the brain does its most important work. Your brain isn’t resting while you’re sleeping — it’s actually very active. When you’re sleeping, your brain replays certain things you learned that day, cementing them into your memory. So getting enough sleep can help you learn better.

When it comes to how much sleep people need, there’s no single correct answer. Sleep patterns vary with age, gender, and situations such as pregnancy, so sleep is a very individual thing. If you don’t get the amount of sleep that’s right for you, it takes a toll on your body and brain. Sleep loss can affect your attention, memory, mood, executive functions, logical reasoning, and even motor control. In one study, a participant who slept less than six hours a night for five nights experienced the same level of cognitive decline as someone who hadn’t slept in 48 hours.

U.S. businesses lose an estimated $100 billion each year due to the effects of sleep deprivation. By being flexible with work schedules, companies could see a boost in productivity from employees whose internal clocks don’t function optimally on a standard 9-to-5 schedule.


When you’re feeling stressed, the hypothalamus in your brain triggers the release of adrenaline. This is what makes your blood pressure rise and your heart race. This is followed by a rush of cortisol, which triggers the fight-or-flight response to stress, which ties back to the brain’s mission to help you survive. This surge of hormones was originally intended to help our ancestors react quickly to threats from predators. Nowadays, people deal with different types of stressors, such as money troubles and chaotic workplaces.

Acute stress can be good for the body and even allow people to do seemingly impossible things, like a grandmother lifting a car to save her grandchild. However, stress can be problematic if stress hormones remain elevated. Chronic stress can lead to a heart attack or stroke. It can also have negative effects on the immune system, making someone more likely to catch a cold or develop an autoimmune disease.

Stress also has an impact on memory. Being able to remember stressful, lifethreatening situations helped early humans survive. So the brain stores stressful experiences in its memory, where they can be quickly recalled if needed. But again, chronic stress has negative effects. If the stress is very severe or long lasting, it can negatively impact long- and short-term memory and hinder learning ability.

Stressed and nonstressed brains learn in different ways. For example, a straightA student who suddenly learns that their parents are divorcing might find it difficult to focus and learn following the stressful news, and their grades may suffer as a result. And students aren’t the only ones who suffer as a result of high or prolonged stress. It’s estimated that work-related stress costs American businesses billions of dollars each year.


The wiring in your brain changes every time you learn something new — even small bits of information can lead to neurons moving around and the brain essentially rewriting itself. The brain is like a muscle that becomes bigger and more complex as you exercise it. When you’re born, the brain is only partially constructed, and it continues to grow through your early 20s, fine-tuning itself through your 40s.

While brain development happens around the same time for most people, the growth patterns are remarkably different for each person, with different regions of the brain developing at different speeds. In fact, brain surgeons must individually map the brain of each patient before surgery to find critical function areas because each brain is wired so differently.

Because of our individualized brains, not everyone learns the same way. This is why classrooms with fewer students — where teachers can learn about and adapt to students’ different needs — are more productive learning environments.

Attention and Memory

Awareness has a big influence on what you pay attention to. Your brain is more likely to pay attention to things you’ve previously shown interest in. For example, if you get a new dog, you might feel like you’re suddenly seeing that breed everywhere. It’s not that more dachshunds suddenly popped up — your brain is simply more aware of that type of dog when you see it.

When it comes to attention, the brain can’t multitask. You can walk and talk at the same time, but as soon as you turn your attention to how you’re walking, you’ll notice that your speech drifts off. Switching from one task to another is sequential in the brain, and it takes time to return to a task once you’re distracted. For example, if you’re interrupted while reading, you may have to start the paragraph over again.

Because your brain can’t truly multitask, trying to focus on more than one thing at a time increases your chances of making a mistake and decreases productivity. To be more productive, try turning off your phone and closing all unnecessary windows on your computer and see if you get more done.

People who appear to be good at multitasking simply have good memories and are capable of quickly remembering where they left off in a series of tasks. Memory has always been essential to survival. Our ancestors needed to remember where to find food and what things were a threat. However, researchers have found that people generally forget 90% of what they learn within 30 days.

How can you improve your memory? Memories that fit together are easier to remember, and things with a stronger meaning attached to them are more likely to be remembered as well. If you’re given a list of words and rank them from most to least liked, you’ll be more likely to remember them than if you simply focus on the list. Another way to improve memory is with repetition. Every time the brain recalls something from its long-term memory, a process of reconsolidation begins. So repetition in spaced-out intervals is a powerful tool that can be used to store something in your long-term memory.

Sensory Integration and Vision

The senses work together in the brain through sensory integration. Stimulating multiple senses at one time can have a positive effect on learning. The brain uses the senses to bring in input and interpret the world. These inputs are combined simultaneously in the appropriate parts of the brain to create a perception of your surroundings or situation. Because the world is multisensory, it makes sense that our brains and bodies work best in multisensory environments. Research has shown that multisensory experiences, whether in the boardroom or at school, produce greater results than unisensory ones.

You can use sensory integration to your advantage. Smell is tied to memory and can bring things that were once lost back to the forefront of your mind. Smell is the one sense that has the ability to improve learning all on its own because it’s closely entwined with the brain’s emotional learning centers. In an experiment, subjects who watched a movie with the smell of popcorn in the room were more likely to remember it than those who experienced it without the popcorn smell.

Companies are capitalizing on the strong effect that smells have on the brain. For example, a company that pumped out a chocolate smell near its vending machine saw a 60% increase in sales. Brands also use smell to provoke an emotional response. For example, you can enter a Subway restaurant with your eyes shut and immediately know where you are thanks to the company’s signature bread-baking smell.

While smell may be the strongest sense tied to memory, it is vision that dominates how things are perceived. However, the eye doesn’t capture a perfect image of the environment around you. It interprets what it sees and composes mini, movie-like tracks that are sent to the brain.

When it comes to memory, the more visually stimulating something is, the easier it is to recall. This is known as the pictorial superiority effect. The brain’s preference for images over text can be traced back through evolutionary history — early humans were more concerned with their surroundings than with interpreting words. You can take advantage of the pictorial superiority effect by using images to remember important facts or figures in work or at school.


Some scientists believe that humans are born hardwired for music. This is why babies respond strongly to music, and some type of music can be found in nearly every culture dating back to prehistoric times. However, not everyone agrees with this hypothesis, and there’s still some debate about why music exists in the first place.

Despite all this disagreement, there have been fascinating discoveries about the impact music has on the brain. However, there are also some false myths about music. The Mozart Effect, the idea that music can improve academic performance, has mostly been disproven. In fact, improvements in reading and math skills due to music are minuscule.

However, music does create better listeners. Research has found that musicians are better at paying attention and picking out specific sounds in both music and speech. Music also improves language skills. For example, children with twiceweekly music lessons see boosts in writing and word recognition. Studies have also shown improvements in nonverbal reasoning skills and vocabulary in children who practice a musical instrument for at least three years, making a strong case for music education.

Musicians are also particularly good at recognizing social cues and detecting emotion. Music itself has a biochemical calming effect that impacts mood and emotions. Listening to music you enjoy releases hormones that affect mood. Therefore, music has the power to evoke pleasure, reduce stress, and promote social bonding.


Men’s and women’s brains differ in behavioral, genetic, and neuroanatomical ways, and this starts with the genes that determine sex. Female embryos have two X chromosomes, whereas males have one X and one Y. The X chromosome has many more genes than the Y, so females are more genetically complex, and this is where the difference between male and female brains begins.

The sex chromosomes play an important role when it comes to brain pathologies as well. Mental retardation occurs more regularly in males, partly because many forms of retardation are caused by mutations in the X chromosome. Because men have only one X chromosome, they must live with whatever they’re dealt, whereas female brains can often look past the damage due to the additional X chromosome.

Many other differences between the sexes involve neuroanatomy. For example, men and women sometimes process things in different parts of their brains. An experiment involving slasher films found that male brains processed the movies in the right hemisphere and females processed them in the left, demonstrating that males and females handle stress differently. Further, female brains recall emotional events more quickly and intensely than male brains. Women are also better when it comes to communicating verbally because they use both hemispheres of the brain while speaking, whereas men mostly use one.

Despite these differences, it’s important to recognize that men and women are treated differently from birth. This makes it difficult to determine how much is nature or nurture when it comes to differences in the way the sexes think and act.


Humans are natural explorers from a very early age, and this leads to lifelong learning. Anyone who has spent time around toddlers can attest to their natural curiosity and desire to explore their surroundings. Children learn through this experimentation. For instance, a baby might cover a cup with a washcloth and remove it several times to check that the cup is still there. In this case, the baby is using experimentation to learn about object permanence.

The way that babies learn and explore fascinates researchers, as it helps to reveal some of the brain’s secrets. Babies don’t learn by simply reacting but by making observations and hypotheses, testing them, and drawing conclusions.

The brain keeps learning as you grow older. It can grow new neurons and connections, and parts of the brain stay malleable throughout life. This gives your brain the ability to change its structure at any point in your life. All this is thanks to evolution: As our species evolved, human brains had to stay flexible to adapt to new situations and experiences.


Your Brain Is Complex and Amazing

Researchers are using brain scans and other techniques to learn more and more about how the human brain works. Although more is left to discover, 12 basic “rules” capture much of what science knows about the amazing computing device in your head.

1. “Exercise” – Your Brain Slows Down When You Sit Still

Physical activity is vital to keep your body and mind working well. Retired television exercise guru Jack La Lanne is a great example. For his 70th birthday, he swam across California’s Long Beach Harbor pulling 70 boats with passengers onboard. His history of exercising and eating well contributed to his perennially quick wit and agile humor.

“My goal is to introduce you to 12 things we know about how the brain works.”

Anthropologists note that the first humans covered dozens of miles a day seeking food, so their brains evolved to handle regular physical activity. Because our brains “were forged in the furnace of physical activity,” if you want to use your entire IQ you must exercise. Couch potatoes lose mental facilities and physical capabilities. To regain your mental abilities, get aerobic exercise, even if you have neglected yourself. Just walking half an hour a few times a week will boost your cognitive output and reduce your risk of dementia.

“The need for explanation is so powerfully stitched into babies’ experiences that some scientists describe it as a drive, just as hunger and thirst and sex are drives.”

Children who find concentrating difficult will benefit from physical activity. Exercise makes oxygen flow more efficiently through the blood and into the cells, cleaning up toxic wastes left behind by food metabolism. When you move you’re keeping your brain cells healthy. More than food or water, your brain, which consumes 20% of your body’s energy, requires oxygen to function. Exercise also makes your mental engine run cleanly. Unfortunately, modern civilization requires people to sit for long periods without moving. If schools and offices incorporated physical activity, students and staffers would get smarter, healthier and more productive.

2. “Survival” – Your Brain Is an Evolutionary Triumph

The human species is weak, but brainpower helped people survive and thrive. Your brain has three parts where many survival and learning tools are hardwired: a “lizard brain” or amygdala, a “mammalian brain” and the cortex for higher reasoning. Humans have a great capacity to adapt. Over thousands of years, thanks to their powerful brains, people adjusted to changes in climate and food supply, and came to dominate the planet. Their advanced brains also allow them to “read” each other and negotiate. Your brain’s memory is an informational “database,” and you use mental “software” to improvise and solve problems. You may perform best with encouragement and be unable to perform as well near someone who threatens you. Your primitive lizard brain is always watching out for your safety.

3. “Wiring” – Brains Are “Wired” Individually

Nerve cells, known as neurons, look a bit like fried eggs that have been stepped on. The yolk holds important genetic coding. The long tentacle-shaped edges transmit and receive electrochemical messages at blinding speed. This is the cellular basis of learning. The brain’s neural connections are in constant flux. Your specific brain structure depends on your culture and other external inputs. A musician’ brain has different cellular “wiring” than a scuba diver’s. As children grow, so do their brains. Key brain growth occurs up until the early 20s and changes can continue for decades. Many researchers have worked to understand intelligence and to map how the brain functions. Some believe there are multiple types of IQ. One person might be great at math while another excels at physical movement. Different parts of the brain are activated for different memories and skills, so your brain scan looks different than anyone else’s, even your twin’s. Since each brain is individual, educational programs should be customizable.

4. “Attention” – If It’s Not Intriguing, Your Brain Isn’t Interested

When you find something boring, you don’t pay close attention and you can’t retain the content – so when you’re giving a presentation, capture the audience’s interest as soon as you can. You want your audience to focus. Multitasking is a recipe for inefficiency and danger. In fact, multitaskers are prone to 50% more errors and take 50% longer to finish a task than people who do one thing at a time. Studies say that chatting on your cell phone while you’re behind the wheel of an automobile is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.

“Easily the most sophisticated information-transfer system on Earth, your brain is fully capable of taking the little black squiggles on this piece of bleached wood and deriving meaning from them.”

People remember emotional situations longer than calm ones for neurochemical reasons. During emotional events, your brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is associated with attention and rewards; it helps you cement the memories. At stressful moments, the brain doesn’t pick up details. It focuses on the big picture. If you’re trying to teach someone, present “the key ideas and, in a hierarchical fashion, form the details around these larger notions.” Provide information in 10-minute chunks and use entertaining hooks between those chunks.

“To accomplish this miracle, your brain sends jolts of electricity cracking through hundreds of miles of wires composed of brain cells so small that thousands…fit into the period at the end of this sentence.”

Researchers who study stroke victims have found that the left side of the brain can only pay attention to visual stimuli on the right, but the right side takes in the entire visual field. So a stroke patient will recover better if the stroke occurs in the left hemisphere of the brain.

5. “Short-term Memory” – The Case for Connection

When you can recall a piece of information immediately, it is stored in your short-term or “working” memory. To make a memory last longer, repeat it and link it to something familiar. For instance, students forget 90% of a classroom lesson in less than a month, but going over the material at regular intervals and associating one piece of data with another will improve their retention rates. Information in a list of unrelated items is harder to recall than material with meaningful connections to something familiar. Thus, people learn better when they can refer to familiar examples. To be more memorable, engage your listeners’ elaborately and substantively.

6. “Long-term Memory” – The Case for Repetition

Sound and images enhance short-term memory, but you won’t retain information in your long-term memory without a stabilizing process called “consolidation,” and subsequent recall and repetition, or “reconsolidation.” Stored memories are more malleable than you might expect. Today’s fresh memories can fade after a few years, forcing your brain to struggle to recall the specifics of events that once were clear.

“You accomplish all this in less time than it takes to blink. Indeed, you have just done it. Yet most of us have no idea how our brain works.”

Studies show that “the brain might cheerily insert false information to make a coherent story.” This has disturbing implications for the value of witnesses in a court of law, among other things. If you want to retain something, be deliberate. For example, ignoring your homework and then studying all night before a test is counterproductive. You will do better by spacing out multiple study sessions.

“Some schools and workplaces emphasize a stable, rote-learned database. They ignore the improvisatory instincts drilled into us for millions of years. Creativity suffers.”

To retain specific information, you need to:

  • Think about the information within the first hour or so after you learn it.
  • Immediately speak to other people about it in great detail.
  • Have a good night’s sleep and “rehearse” the information again afterward.

7. “Sleep” – Snooze or Lose

The human body increasingly malfunctions when deprived of sleep. If you are sleepless for a few days, in addition to severe fatigue, you will experience stomach upsets, crankiness, poor memory recall, disorientation, and eventually paranoia and hallucinations. For about 80% of the time you spend asleep, your brain doesn’t really rest. Brain scans show enormous electrical activity among the neurons, even more than when you are awake. The body has a delicate control process, called the circadian cycle, which keeps you alternating between wakefulness and sleep periods.

“Knowing where to find fruit in the jungle is cognitive child’s play compared with predicting and manipulating other people within a group setting.”

An individual’s preferred sleep timeframe varies genetically:

  • Early birds (called “larks” and “early chronotypes” by scientists) make up about 10% of the population.
  • Another 20% of people are late nighters (called “owls” and “late chronotypes”).
  • Everyone else falls midrange on the continuum.

“The body seems to be clamoring to get back to its hyperactive Serengeti roots. Any nod toward this history, be it ever so small, is met with a cognitive war whoop.”

Your brain slows in the afternoon, but a nap can work wonders. Napping for 45 minutes will turbo-charge your brain for six hours. Conversely, students who skip even an hour of sleep each night face a dramatic drop in academic performance. Sleep deprivation impairs “attention, executive function, immediate memory, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning ability, general math knowledge.” Wouldn’t it be great to match job schedules with people’s inherent sleep patterns? Plus, a later school day would address teenagers’ normal tendency to sleep late.

8. “Stress” – Chronic Tension Makes It Harder to Learn

A little bit of stress heightens your ability to learn, but ongoing, chronic stress damages brain function. Chronic stress can cause a phenomenon called “learned helplessness,” in which people simply give up hope and no longer engage their brains or try to solve problems.

“When couch potatoes are enrolled in an aerobic exercise program, all kinds of mental abilities begin to come back online.”

During times of stress, people experience a “fight or flight response.” The resulting blood pressure rise and racing pulse are detrimental over the long term, raising the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Chronic stress worsens your ability to work with numbers and language. When you are seriously stressed, you don’t learn as well and have difficulty concentrating, remembering and solving problems. Chronic stress can lead to acute depression.

“Our schools are designed so that most real learning has to occur at home. This would be funny if it weren’t so harmful.”

One kind of stress has serious implications for children: Kids who live in homes where parents fight constantly “have more difficulty regulating their emotions, soothing themselves, focusing their attention on others,” and are more often absent from school. Their ability to learn, study and remember is so diminished that their test scores drop. A program called “Bringing Baby Home,” by researcher John Gottman, Ph.D., teaches fresh marital communication skills to expectant couples. As a result, their newborns have healthier brain chemistry than infants who live with fighting parents.

9. “Sensory Integration” – For Best Results, Use All Your Senses

Your brain gets crucial sensory input from your eyes, ears, nose and skin. For enhanced learning, bring all your senses into play. For example, you will retain more of what you read when pictures accompany the text. The more inputs your brain has to work with, the better you will learn and recall information.

“Blame it on the fact that brain scientists rarely have a conversation with teachers and business professionals.”

You also remember things better if you first encounter them in the presence of distinctive sensory clues, like smells or sounds. That’s why Starbucks doesn’t want its employees to wear perfume, because it could conflict with the aroma of coffee in the stores.

10. “Vision” – The Eyes Have It

Expert wine testers can be fooled, and made to ignore their sense of taste and smell, if you change the color of wine they are testing. This illustrates how the brain prioritizes the sense of sight. The human vision-processing system is highly complex, and when the brain encounters blind spots it actually interpolates the visual field. Reading is a complex mental activity, because the brain processes each letter as an individual visual symbol.

11. “Gender” – Your Sex Affects Your Brain

Scientists find subtle anatomical and functional differences between male and female brains. For example, women synthesize the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin, more slowly than men. The genders respond somewhat differently to acute stress: Women often assume a caring role, while men isolate themselves. However, no given individual necessarily conforms to group statistics.

12. “Exploration” – A Sense of Wonder Promotes Learning

As infants become toddlers, they act like little scientists, constantly examining their environment, and testing cause and effect. Their brains are busy gaining data and concepts to help them navigate their circumstances. The adult brain remains flexible and plastic. People are able to learn throughout their life spans.


There’s much left to be discovered about our brains, but understanding the basic ways that the brain works can help you thrive at work, school, or home. The brain evolved over thousands of years and still retains some of the basic instincts of our ancestors. Doing simple things — like getting enough sleep and exercise, reducing stress, and listening to music — can improve brain function. However, everyone’s brain is wired differently, so the key is to understand what works best for you and your brain.

About the author

John Medina has a background in developmental molecular biology and is a professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He has founded two brain research institutes — the Talaris Research Institute and the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research — and has written several books.

John J. Medina directs the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University and teaches in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine.