Introduction to Brain Rules


In many of the articles on this site I frequently refer to Brain Rules. A brief introduction will help you understand what Brain Rules are and how they relate to presentation design.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Home, Work, and School is written by Dr. John Medina, a developmental biologist and faculty member at both the University of Washington School of Medicine and Seattle Pacific University. He studies the brain – how it developed, how it works – and what that means for us in our day to day activities.

A brain rule is "something that scientists know for sure about how the brain works." For example, scientists know that the brain requires sleep to function well, so Sleep is a Brain Rule. Dr. Medina examines 12 of these principles and discusses how they should influence our daily actions: Because scientists know that sleep is very important, we ought to make it a priority in our daily schedule.

What is astonishing about the book is the realization that most people in our society are breaking nearly all of the Brain Rules! For instance, it is not news to most of us that we need sleep to function well, yet very few people make sleep a priority in our daily schedule. At the end of each chapter Dr. Medina offers simple suggestions on how society's habits can be changed to accommodate Brain Rules.

So what do Brain Rules have to do with presentations?

In fact, nearly all of the Brain Rules at least indirectly affect some aspect of presentations, teaching, and learning. Rule #1 states that exercise improves brain function. Rule #4 teaches us that we do not pay attention to boring things (i.e. most PowerPoint slides) and Rule #10 emphasizes the importance of Vision and explains why text is inferior to pictures.

To sum up the relationship between Brain Rules and presentations, take a look at this Slideshare presentation done by presentation guru, Garr Reynolds.

Brain Rules for Presenters
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: reynolds garr)

To learn more about Brain Slides, buy the book on

Visit the Brain Rules website, or stay tuned for more posts on how Brain Rules should play a key role in how you design your presentations for the classroom.