Brain Rules

Posted: October 17th, 2013

Brain Rules






Brain Rules

‘Brain rules’ is described as an exemplary book since it has aided numerous individuals, specifically parents and guardians, with information about practical parenting strategies. Medina provides the readers in each chapter with what he terms as brain rules, which is known as how the brain works with surety. In addition, from each identified rule, he indicates with adequate evidence, how such influences affect daily activities of an individual.

The USA Today described the books after its release as “dissecting the workings of the brain in basic English, explaining its role in the workplace and classroom. What could be a daunting subject becomes enjoyable through a writing style that makes words leap off the page.” (New York Times Bestseller, 2008). From this review, it is evident that the author’s intent of provoking the minds of the readers is with an aim of enhancing their critical thinking. In addition, he offers the readers practical theories and ideas in improving the use of the brain, cognition and eventual improvements in productivity.

On the other hand, the Publishers Weekly termed the book as “Multitasking is the great buzz word in business today, but as developmental molecular biologist Medina tells readers in a chapter on attention, the brain can really only focus on one thing at a time. This alone is the best argument for not talking on your cell phone while driving. Medina presents readers with a basket containing an even dozen good principles on how the brain works and how we can use them to our benefit at home and work…the author employs an appealing style, with suggestions on how to apply his principles, which should engage all readers.” (New York Times Bestseller, 2008). The book is highlighted as a New York Times Bestseller, which is an indication of the presence of adequate and vital information in the book on how to use knowledge for improvement of the quality of life.

The book’s main theme is the use of the brain for improving the quality of life and enhancing the productivity of an individual at any given setting such as work, school and homes. The book could be described as a psychoanalytic book as the author uses cognitive approaches for his own understating of how the brain works, to enable the reader to understand the functions of the brains and the influence on day-to-day activities.

The Title of the book Brain Rules is by John Medina, a molecular biologist who uses his skills as a biologist to find approaches that would enable the society improve their lives and accrue productivity in all aspect of their lives. The book could be described as an incorporation of practical approaches and theories, which can be actualized by the readers and applied in daily life with the aim enhancing the same in terms if better lifestyles, excellent health and specifically productivity as it relates to the functions of the brain. The book was published in the year 2008 by Pear Press publishers in the city of Seattle (New York Times Bestseller, 2008). The author tires to address the decreased productivity of individuals within the contemporary societies given the technological advancements, which have resulted in lazy individuals who are not productive in many aspects.


Dr.Medina’s first rule of the brain is “exercise boost brain power” (Medina, 2008). The statement implies that brain activity and productivity is enhanced by exercise. This is because the brain relies on adequate blood flow for maximum execution of tasks. In addition, the brain relies on blood for the provision of oxygen in order to function. In addition, the brain is responsible for the human cognitive tasks with reference to human cognitive executive functions.

According to Medina, exercises instigate the Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) (Medina, 2008). The BDNF is vital as it enhances the brain’s activity by stimulating the growth of certain neurons of the brain, which aid in the development of healthy tissues of the brain. This is vital as improved and grown tissues improve the overall performance of an individual in any given environment, as the brain is the coordinator of the functions of the body.

In addition, the second rule the human brain evolved and other organs of the body. The role of the human brain is to infer according to Dr.Medina. This is described as the signature character trait of humans. It enables individuals to exercise the varying levels of rationality or reason which is also a trait restricted to only human. Animals are not able to exercise any form of cognitive tasks given that they have lower brain functions. This brain function is aimed at enhancing us reasoning in order to relate with people in society, as well as loved ones. Furthermore, this is aimed at recognition of individual intentions and motivations using cognitive rationality.

The third rule of the brain is “every brain is wired differently.” The author argues that the functions of the brain vary in entirety from one individual to another (Medina, 2008). This is because the “wiring” as described by the author is what gives individuals their varying character traits. In addition, according to the author, prior experiences in life and knowledge determine understanding. In addition, daily life determines how the brain is “wired” to execute tasks. In addition, the various life experiences alter the functions of the brain as each day the brain executes tasks in relation to identical previous tasks and activities. Such influences the great degree of variability in terms of their cognitive

The fourth brain rule is that it odes not focus of things, which could be considered as boring. He states, “We don’t pay attention to boring things” (Medina, 2008). In addition, the author is of the opinion that what stands out in daily life is connected to the memories and interests. The author adds that the emotional events are remembered vividly in comparison to events, which do not possess any impact on a person’s emotions.

In the fifth and sixth rule, the author talks of the short and long-term memories consecutively. He is of the opinion that the long-term memory could be enhanced by using a specific approach to enhance storage of information by the brain. He adds that the long-term memory could be enhanced by incorporation of new information and repetition of such information on a gradual basis. Furthermore, according to the author the same applies to short-term memory of an individual whereby repetition of information can be stored with repetition of the same information (Medina, 2008).

The seventh rule according to the author is “sleep well, think well” (Medina, 2008). This according to the author is essential because inadequate sleep leads to loss of brain activity or eventual brain drain. In addition, sleep promotes growth of the brain, ensures that the brain is more creative, and increases the ability to learn new information. On the other hand, the author states that the eighth rule is, “stressed brains do not learn in the same way” (Medina, 2008). This is evidenced by the loss of appetite, interest in work and other activities when an individual is stressed. In addition, such ensures that much of the function of the brain dwells on stressful thinking and activities. This is detrimental to an individual because it reduces the ability of an individual to learn as majority of the brain tissues are focused on stressful events and activities.

The ninth rule is that the brain “stimulates more of the senses,” (Medina, 2008) He adds that sensory integration is essential, as the brain remembers more from visual stimuli than verbal information. Additionally the author is of the opinion that the brain relies on experiences for relating with the current or present activities. Hence, individuals perceive similar vents differently as they rely on their cognitive parts of the brain harboring experience for execution of similar tasks or activities. Sensory stimuli play one of the greatest roles in brain functions as it relies on previous information or experience for the relation and eventual recognition of information or elements.

The eleventh rule is that the “female and male brains are different” (Medina, 2008). This is evident by the varying levels of emotions and cognitive abilities possessed by women and men. Males tend to assume a social approach in execution of tasks whereas women view each other as competition. Furthermore, women tend to rely on complex verbal talents to cement relationships, whereas, men tend to emphasize on the need of psychical tasks to form emotional bonds in relationships. The twelfth and last brain rule address humans stating that ”we are powerful and natural explorers”. This implies that the brain is responsible for the levels of curiosity posed by humans. Such enables individuals to gain information about their surroundings and thus in the process s learn about new things which might be vital for survival.


The date of writing of the book is relevant given the technological advancements, which have reduced the productivity of individuals. In the year 2008, the financial crisis resulted in stressful financial liabilities for numerous individuals. This book is aimed at enabling clarified thinking for individuals to enable them increase their productivity in work places, as well as use the acquired approaches on their children for improved academics (Medina, 2008).

Brain Rules by John Medina gives express and practical theories for application in enhancing individual quality of life, which affects those around us. Hence, the book enables people to change their lives, improve productivity a work, schools and the domestic settings (Medina, 2008). The book is practical as the brain in essence is described as the controller of all the body functions and the important cognitive abilities, which separates humans from other animals in the world. I think the book I adequately relevant for the contemporary societies given the widespread sedentary lifestyles, which people lead. The book however is contested in that individuals within the psychological schools of thought consider that behavior can be changed provide if given adequate room for such changes. As for me, the book was relevant, and I intend on actualizing some of the approaches I learnt from the book. This would enhance my quality if life given that I also lead a sedentary lifestyle (Medina, 2008).

            In conclusion, it is evident form the book of the role of the brain in determining how we relate with society and the natural environment. In addition, it also plays a significant role in terms of perception of various issues and thus determining and influencing how we relate with individuals and other environment as a whole. The author’s persuasion in relation to the brain functionality determine the level of productivity as beyond satisfactory. This is because the information provided for by the author is adequately researched and based on evidence from studies. The book has challenged my intellectual thinking, in that it has given me a broader and clarified perspective of how all my daily activities are related to the functions of the brain. In addition, my behavior as an individual, either conscious or unconscious, is directly related to the functions of the brain and directly influenced by the day-to-day activities for the formation of behavior (New York Times Bestseller, 2008).

Moreover, cognitive tasks by the brain determine an individual’s relationships with the society. Such could be enhanced by following the twelve rules of the brain to ensure that all the identified activities are put into consideration and executed. However, I would pose a question to the author, how genetics relates to the functions of the brain? This is because he does not relate genetics to behavior exhibited by individuals, which is at times related to family genetics. Thus, I am of the view that the author could add more information on the rules of the brain and unwanted behavior deletion from the brain as he identifies that all out functions relate to previous activities or experiences.


Medina, J. (2008). Brain rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

New York Times Bestseller. (2008). “Brain Rules: 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school.” New York Times.

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