Brain Rules, John Medina

Ci-dessous, retrouvez les citations et passages que j’ai trouvé le plus intéressant du livre du Docteur John Medina, Brain Rules.

Vous voulez comprendre comment votre cerveau marche et comment réussir à l’utiliser le plus efficacement possible selon différentes situations ? Ce livre est fait pour vous !

Bonne lecture !

Brain Rule #1: The human brain evolved, too.

  • In truth, if we ever fully understood how the human brain knew how to pick up a glass of water, it would represent a major achievement.
  • Though we have been stuffing them into classrooms and cubicles for decades, our brains actually were built to survive in jungles and grasslands. We have not outgrown this.
  • If you wanted to create an education environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a classroom. If you wanted to create a business environment that was directly opposed to what the brain was good at doing, you probably would design something like a cubicle.
  • One trait really does separate us from the gorillas: the ability to use symbolic reasoning. When we see a five-sided geometric shape, we’re not stuck perceiving it as a pentagon. We can just as easily perceive the US military headquarters. Or a Chrysler minivan. Our brains can behold a symbolic object as real by itself and yet, simultaneously,  also representing something else.
  • Dual Representation Theory. Stated formally, it describes our ability to attribute characteristics and meanings to things that don’t actually possess them. Stated informally, we can make things up that aren’t there. We are human because we can fantasize.
  • We adapted to variation itself. Those unable to rapidly solve new problems or learn from mistakes didn’t survive long enough to pass on their genes. The net effect of this evolution was that rather than becoming stronger, we became smarter.
  • One of the random genetic mutations that gave us an adaptive advantage involved walking upright on two legs. Because the trees were gone or going, we needed to travel increasingly long distances between food sources. Walking on two legs instead of four both freed up our hands and used fewer calories. it was energy-efficient. Our ancestral bodies used the energy surplus not to pump up our muscles nut to pump up our mind.
  • Three brains are tucked inside your head, and parts of their structure took millions of years to design. 

Your most ancient neural structure is the brain stem, or “lizard brain.” The brain stem controls most of your body’s housekeeping chores: breathing, heart rate, sleeping, walking.

Sitting atop your brain stem is your “mammalian brain.” It appears in you the same way it does in many mammals, such as house cats, which is how it got its name. It has more to do with your animal survival than with your human potential; Most of its functions involve what some researchers call the “four Fs”: fighting, feeding, fleeing, and… reproductive behavior. 

The amygdala allows you to feel rage. Or fear. Or pleasure. Or memories of past experiences of rage, fear, or pleasure/ The amygdala is responsible for both the creation of emotions and the memories they generate.

The hippocampus converts your short-term memories into longer-term forms.

The thalamus is one of the most active, well-connected parts of the brain — a control tower for the senses. Sitting in the center of your brain, it processes and routes signals sent from nearly every corner of your sensory universe.

Folding atop all of this is your “human brain,” a layer called the cortex. Each region of the cortex is highly specialized, with sections for speech, for vision, for memory.

Brain Rule #2: Exercise boosts brain power

  • The chief reason for the longer life is that exercise improves cardiovascular fitness, which in turn reduced the risk for diseases such as heart attacks or stroke.
  • A lifetime of exercise results in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognition performance, compared with those who are sedentary.
  • How this works is easy to understand. When you exercise, you increase blood flow across the tissues of your body. Blood flow improves because exercise stimulates the blood vessels to create a powerful, flow-regulating molecule called nitric oxide. As the flow improves, the body makes new blood vessels, which penetrate deeper and deeper into the tissues of the body. This allows more access to the bloodstream goods and services, which include food distribution and waste disposal. The more you exercise, the more tissues you can feed and the more toxic waste you can remove. This happens all over the body. That’s why exercise improves the performance of most human functions. You stabilize existing transportation structures and add new ones. All of a sudden, you are becoming healthier.

Brain Rue #3: Sleep well, think well

  • When we are asleep, the brain is not resting at all.
  • Sleep loss hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning ability, general math knowledge. Eventually, sleep loss affects manual dexterity, including fine motor control, and even gross motor movements, such as the ability to walk on a treadmill.
  • Sleep is intimately involved in learning. It is observable with large amounts of sleep; it is observable with small amounts of sleep; it is observable all the time.
  • The brain is in a constant state of tension between cells and chemicals that try to put you to sleep and cells and chemicals that try to keep you awake.
  • The neurons of your brain show vigorous rhythmical activity when you’re asleep—perhaps replaying what you learned that day.
  • People vary in how much sleep they need and when they prefer to get it, but the biological drive for an afternoon nap is universal.

Brain Rule #4: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way

  • Your body’s defense system—the release of adrenaline and cortisol—is built for an immediate response to a serious but passing danger, such as a saber-toothed tiger. Chronic stress, such as hostility at home, dangerously deregulated a system built only to deal with short term responses.
  • Under chronic stress, adrenaline creates scars in your blood vessels that can cause a heart attack or stroke, and cortisol damages the cells of the hippocampus, crippling your ability to learn and remember.
  • Individually, the worst kind of stress is the feeling that you have no control over the problem—you are helpless.
  • Emotional stress has huge impacts across society, on children’s ability to learn in school and on employees’ productivity at work.

Brain Rule #5: Every brain is wired differently

  • The brain acts like a muscle: The more activity you do, the larger and more complex it can become. Whether that equates to more intelligence is another issue, but one fact is indisputable: What you do in life physically changes what your brain looks like. You can wire and rewire your brain with the simple choice of which musical instrument—or professional sport—you play.
  • Our brains are so sensitive to external inputs that their physical wiring depends upon the culture in which they find themselves.
  • Howard Gardner believes we have at least seven categories of intelligence: verbal/linguistic, musical/rhythmic, logical/mathematical, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.
  • No two brains are wired identically. Not in terms of structure. Not in terms of function. For example, from nouns to verbs to aspects of grammar, we each store language in different areas, recruiting different regions for different components. Bilingual people don’t even store their spanish and their english in similar places.
  • What you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like—it literally rewires it.
  • The various regions of the brain develop at different rates in different people.
  • Neurons go through a growth spurt and pruning project during the terrible twos and teen years.
  • No two people’s brain store the same information in the same way in the same place
  • We have a great number of ways of being intelligent, many of which don’t show up on IQ tests.

Brain Rule #6: We don’t pay attention to boring things

  • What you pay attention to is often profoundly influenced by memory. In everyday life, you use your previous experiences to predict where you should pay attention.
  • Different environments create different expectations.
  • The brain’s attentional “spotlight” can focus on only one thing at a time: no multitasking.
  • We are better at seeing patterns and abstracting the meaning of an event than we are at recording detail.
  • Emotional arousal helps the brain learn.
  • Audiences check out after 10 minutes, but you can keep grabbing them back by telling narratives or creating events rich in emotion.

Brain Rule #7: Repeat to remember

  • We’re not born knowing everything we need to know about the world. e must lean it through first hand experience or secondhand teaching. 
  • Memory provides a big survival advantage. It allows us to remember where food grows and where threats lurk.
  • Memory, it seems, makes us not only durable but also human.
  • Declarative memory: you use it when you need to remember your social security number. One does  not recall how to ride a bike in the same way one recalls nine numbers in a certain order. The ability to ride a bike seems quite independent from any conscious recollection of the skill. You were consciously aware when remembering your social security number, but not when remembering how to ride a bike. So declarative memories are those that can be experienced in our conscious awareness, such as a list of numbers, and non declarative memories are those that cannot be experienced in our conscious awareness, such as the motor skills necessary to ride a bike.
  • Some memories hang around for only a few minutes, then vanish. Others persist for days and months, even for a lifetime. People usually forget 90 percent of what they learn in a class within 30 days. And the majority of this forgetting occurs within the first two hours after class. But one could increase the lifespan of a memory by repeating the information in timed intervals.
  • The more elaborately we encode information at the moment of learning, the stronger the memory. When the initial encoding is more detailed, more multifaceted, and more imbued with emotion, we form a more robust memory.
  • The trick for business professionals, and for educators, is to present information so compelling that the audience provides this meaning on their own, spontaneously engaging in deep and elaborate encoding.
  • The more closely we replicate the conditions at the moment of learning, the easier the remembering.
  • Memory worked best, it appeared, if the environmental conditions at retrieval mimicked the environmental conditions at encoding.
  • Learn something while you are sad and you will be able to recall it better if, at retrieval, you are somehow suddenly made sad It’s called context-dependent or state-dependent learning.
  • The initial moments of learning are critical to retrieving that learning.
  • Information is remembered best when it is elaborate, meaningful, and contextual.
  • The more a learner focuses on the meaning of information being presented, the more elaborately he or she will process the information.
  • How does one communicate meaning in such a fashion that learning is improved? A simple trick involves the liberal use of relevant real-world examples, thus peppering main learning points with meaningful experiences.
  • Examples work because they take advantage of the brain’s natural predilection for pattern matching. Information is more readily processed if it can be immediately associated with information already present in the brain. We compare the two inputs, looking for similarities and differences as we encode the new information. Providing examples is the cognitive equivalent of adding more handles to the door. Providing examples makes the information more elaborative, more complex, better encoded, and therefore better learned.
  • Start with a compelling introduction. Introductions are everything.
  • A great deal of research shows that thinking or talking about an event immediately after it has occured enhances memory for that event, even when accounting for differences in type of memory. This is one of the reasons why it is so critical to have a witness recall information as soon as is humanly possible after a crime.
  • Repeated exposure to information in spaced intervals provides the most powerful way to fix memory into the brain.
  • Forgetting allows us to prioritize. Anything irrelevant to our survival will take up wasteful cognitive space if we assign it the same priority as events critical to our survival. So we don’t. At least, most of us don’t.

Brain Rule #8: Stimulate more of the senses.

  • Given that people have unique previous experiences, they bring different interpretations to their top-down analyses. Thus, two people can see the same input and come away with vastly different perceptions. It is a sobering thought. There is no one accurate way to perceive the world.
  • The amygdala supervises not only the formation of emotional experiences but also the memory of emotional experiences. Because smell directly stimulates the amygdala, smell directly stimulates emotions. Smell signals also beeline for a part of your brain deeply involved in decision making. It is almost as if the odor is saying, “My signal is so important, I am going to give you a memorable emotion. What are you going to do about it?”
  • “Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces… and then to eat just one of the pieces.” Judith Viorst
  • We absorb information about an event through our senses, translate it into electrical signals (some for sight, others from sound, etc.), disperse those signals to separate parts of the brain, then reconstruct what happened, eventually perceiving the event as a whole.
  • The brain seems to rely partly on past experience in deciding how to combine these signals, so two people can perceive the same event very differently.
  • Our senses evolved to work together—vision influencing hearing, for example—which means that we learn best if we stimulate several senses at once.
  • Smells have an unusual power to bring back memories, maybe because smell signals bypass the thalamus and head straight to their destinations, which include that supervisor of emotions known as the amygdala.

Brain Rue #9: Vision trumps all other senses

  • We actually experience our visual environment as a fully analysed opinion about what the brain thinks is out there.
  • Vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain resources.
  • What we see is only what our brain tells us we see, and it’s not 100 percent accurate.
  • The visual analysis we do has many steps. The retina assembles photons into movie-like streams of information. The visual cortex processes these streams: some areas registering motion, others registering color, etc. Finally, we recombine that information so that we can see.
  • We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words.

Brain Rule #10: Study or listen to boost cognition

  • Formal musical training improves intellectual skills in several cognitive domains. Music boosts spatiotemporal skills, vocabulary, picking out sounds in a noisy environment, working memory, and sensory-motor skills.
  • Formal music training also aids social cognition. People with music training are better able to detect the emotional information in speech. Empathy skills and other prosocial behaviors improve.
  • Variations on these effects have been shown in adults, college students, schoolchildren, even infants.

Brain Rule #11: Male and female brains are different

  • The frontal and prefrontal cortex control much of our decision-making ability. Certain parts of this cortex is fatter in women than in men. 

The limbic system, home to the amygdala, controls not only the generations of emotions but also the ability to remember them. Running counter to current social prejudice, this region is much larger in men than it is in women.

Biochemicals have not escaped sex differences, either. Serotonin, key in regulating emotion and mood, is a particularly dramatic example. Males can synthesize serotonin about 52 percent faster than females.

  • The X chromosome that males have one of and females have two of—though one acts as a backup—is a cognitive “hot spot”, carrying an unusually large percentage of genes involved in brain manufacture.
  • Women are genetically more complex, because the active X chromosomes in their cells are a mix of Mom’s and Dad’s? Men’s X chromosomes all come from Mom, and their Y chromosome carries less than 100 genes, compared with about 1,500 for the X chromosome. 
  • Men’s and women’s brains are different structurally and biochemically—men have a bigger amygdala and produce serotonin faster, for example—but we don’t know if those differences have significance.
  • Men and women respond differently to acute stress: Women activate the left hemisphere’s amygdala and remember the emotional details. Men active the right hemisphere’s amygdala and get the gist.

Brain Rule #12: We are powerful and natural explorers

  • Babies are the model of how we learn—not by passive reaction to the environment but by active testing through observation, hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion.
  • Specific parts of the brain allow this scientific approach. The right prefrontal cortex looks for errors in our hypothesis (“The saber-toothed tiger is not harmless”), and an adjoining region tells us to change behavior (“Run!”).
  • We can recognize and imitate behavior because of “mirror neurons” scattered across the brain.
  • Some parts of our adult brains stay as malleable as a baby’s so that we can create neurons and learn new things throughout our lives.

Si vous souhaitez l’acheter pour le lire en entier, cliquez sur le lien ci-dessous (il vous redirigera vers Amazon et me permettra de gagner un pourcentage de votre achat si vous passez par mon lien) : Brain Rules, John Medina

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