I read the first edition hardbound (twice, when it came out and again because I was organizing my bookshelf after New Years 2015). The current editionI read the first edition hardbound (twice, when it came out and again because I was organizing my bookshelf after New Years 2015). The current edition has a few changes: The DVD is no longer included (as it was with the hardboard) and instead you can watch the videos on the website; the chapters on long-term and short-term memory were combined and a new chapter on music was added (which I haven't read).
The book is structured with 12 memorable "rules" gleaned from brain research, littered with anecdotes in order to help one remember them, and then ends with some suggestions on how that might be applied in business or education. Each chapter can be read in about 30 minutes which means you can finish in less time and effort it takes you to watch a half season of a typical TV show.
If you want a Cliff Notes version of the book, or just want an idea before your read it, you can go to the website and watch the videos. Ignore the cheesy video production quality, and you'll be fine.
It's a pretty good book. A few things keep it from getting 5 stars, first there are some strange omissions in the science. For example, he talks about H.M. (now known as Henry Moliasson after 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Mo... — question to self: did he fix this in later editions of the book?) who cannot store long term memory, but doesn't mention a key point he alludes to that he was capable of learning emotional and physical actives as those are stored through different neural pathways. Which leads to a separate omission in that nearly all his research covers areas that involve the frontal and parietal regions of the cortex or areas guided by it, not a single mention of the cerebellum, a very poor description of the visual cortex system, and an unbecoming-of-a-scientist explanation of the limbic system and midbrain.
A lot of those omission are probably in the name of trying to make it accessible to the New Yorker reading crowd who wants to feel good about themselves for reading books, but wants to omit true understanding and messiness. However, as a scientist, himself, I find it poor to his calling. (On a side note, I love the pathetic attempts toward Malcolm Gladwellisms when describing physical features of various contemporary and historical neural scientists. That disease needs to be stamped out right-quick.)
As I mentioned chapter ends with some suggestions on how to apply the brain science mentioned in the chapter. This stuff sometimes is interesting, but I feel more often than not steers the latte-sipping reader into dangerous and potentially stupid territory. For instance, in the chapter on physical exercise, he suggests that we all have stand up desks with treadmills attached and take meetings on-the-go. This is not the right conclusion of the research (that the brain is a muscle, and the muscles are neural systems). By this logic, let's have every video gamer play while exercising on a treadmill, and have every professional baseball player have to recite their multiplication tables while at bat! The right conclusion is the importance of physical health for mental health in general. Just as one needs only about 30 minutes of activity physical fitness, the same 30 minutes of activity is important to mental fitness (as mentioned in the book). One does not say, "Hey therefore if 30 minutes is good, 4800 minutes must be better! Let's do all work while jogging!"
It's for those reasons I give it one star less. However, it deserves the other four stars because you'll learn a bit about the brain (unless you studied bioligical and computational neuroscience like me) and you'll probably have a couple good ideas on how to use them to make your work, home, children, and personal lives better.
(I believe there's a separate book called Brain Rules for Babies. I'm not too sure how I feel about that given this format. My thinking is a reader interested in that would be better served by reading Nurture Shock instead....more
I found and read this book in high school after it was unclaimed during a Spring Carnival (I got my dibs on unclaimed books since I ran the used bookI found and read this book in high school after it was unclaimed during a Spring Carnival (I got my dibs on unclaimed books since I ran the used book sale section). My Mom had read the book long before me.
It's an interesting read, especially the part about trying to compete with Linus Pauling (then at Caltech) for the design. There's a small error that was recounted by Francis Crick that it was he who figured out that Linus's model of DNA was wrong by using Pauling's own "Nature of the Chemical Bond" (pre-eminent college Chemistry text book of the era) to show it wasn't an acid! D'oh!
The reason I'm taking off a star is because of something you can find from other sources, which is that Watson has a fucking ego the size of bullshit mountain. Crick was not some hapless failed physics grad student when Watson "discovered" him and his nasty characterization of Rosalind Franklin is because he was infatuated with her and those feeling were not returned. This makes it especially atrocious since she did not share in the Nobel Prize with Watson and Crick, her boss did, even though it was her X-Ray crystalogram that cinched it. (To understand the importance of her work, simply observe how Crick recalls that if Pauling had had access to it, he would have been able to get to the double-helix within minutes.)
In any case other than that, it's an important, involving book about what is the easily the greatest discovery in biology of the 20th century, and the thing that really kicked of molecular biology as a field on par with Physics and Chemistry....more