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Your Best Brain

Your Best Brain

Professor John Medina, Ph. D.
University of Washington

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Your Best Brain

Course No. 1606
Professor John Medina, Ph. D.
University of Washington
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4 out of 5
40 Reviews
72% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 1606
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  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version is not heavily illustrated, featuring a variety of visuals designed to aid in your understanding of the course material. These informative visuals include diagrams of a fully functioning human brain that highlights the sites of emotion, creativity, memory, and other critical functions; and illustrations of everything from neuron wiring to the brain's pleasure highway. There are on-screen spellings and definitions to help reinforce material for visual learners.
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Course Overview

The human brain is the most complex object in the known universe. This amazing organ has unique powers to make predictions about the future, form relationships with other people, adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, and much, much more.

But how does the brain accomplish these astonishing feats? We all have a basic conception of our brain’s role in consciousness, memory, emotion, attention, creativity, and so forth. But what exactly goes on in the brain to make these things happen? And—even more intriguing—what happens when the intricate systems in the brain are not functioning as they should?

In Your Best Brain, Professor Medina walks you through the latest, peer-reviewed neuroscience research in an attempt to shed light on the mysterious world inside your head. Explore what science has discovered about:

  • Memory: Although we tend think of memory systems like hard drives in computers, there are actually many memory systems, and they are nothing like computer hard drives. You'll see exactly how your brain remembers details and events... and the surprising reason it forgets about them all.
  • Senses: Between your senses—like sight and smell—and your perception of those senses sit powerful processing and interpretative filtering systems. You’ll uncover how the brain translates cues from the environment to create what we perceive as reality.
  • Emotions: Fear. Excitement. Happiness. Grief. Anger. From where do all these emotions come? You’ll explore how the brain generates and uses emotions to connect with others, as well as to direct your attention to what’s important.
  • Creativity: Brain scientists don’t really know what “creativity” is, but the cognitive gadget that may come closest to describing it is something called “cognitive disinhibition”. This is a process where the brain stubbornly refuses to rule out information that on the surface seems irrelevant to the task at hand. This fluidity of thought allows for staggering innovation—for example, the production of a designer fabric from discarded sour milk.

Tour the Five Key Aspects of the Brain

The first functional map of the cerebral cortex sprang from research done during the two World Wars. When scientists studied soldiers who sustained shrapnel wounds to the head, an examination of each soldier’s lost—or in some cases, gained—functions told the researchers what the affected cortical region did. Since then, the field of neuroscience has been in a near constant state of disruptive transformation as researchers and doctors continue to discover revolutionary truths about our brains.

In 24 exciting lectures, Professor Medina will lead you on a spirited tour of five key aspects of this lively revolution:

  • The Evolving Brain: Killer whales are smart, but they don’t write novels. Crows are smart, but they can’t design microchips. The evolution of the human brain ensured that we not only survived, we actually conquered the world. You'll examine the physical structure and function of the brain and how it enabled a comparatively weak species to become the planet’s apex predator.
  • The Learning Brain: We survived by being the smartest. But what does it mean to be smart? Take a scientific look into what it means to be intelligent, and uncover the sophisticated way your brain processes and analyzes information about the world around you.
  • The Feeling Brain: Being able to form relationships and societies gave humans a massive survival advantage. Central to that is our ability to imagine how others are thinking and feeling. Investigate the subtle nuances between emotions and feelings, how they occur on a biological level, and their role in forming and sustaining connections with others.
  • The Developing Brain: The first three sections of this course describe the fully developed brain. But how does it get that way? Peer into the development process of the brain—from the early years as an infant, to the turbulent teenage period, to how we age in later life.
  • The Optimized Brain: Wrap up this cerebral tour with an answer to the big question—how do you optimize your brain’s processing performance? Find out what science has to say about the role of sleep, exercise, and more in ensuring that the brain performs at its very best. You'll learn practical, research-backed exercises and tips that you can apply in your life right away.

Optimize Your Brain

A generation ago, we were barely able to map the regions of cerebral cortex. Thanks to rapid advances in technology and in our understanding of the brain, today’s neuroscience research goes far beyond trying to understand how the brain works, and into the search for proven ways to optimize brain performance. You'll learn science-backed strategies for improving your memory, boosting your creativity, and keeping your brain healthy. Examples include:

  • How a simple exercise—created by a leading neuroscientist—can make you more creative. It’s as easy as washing your hands!
  • A practical, three-step guide to remembering nearly anything by tapping into your brain’s deep integration with your senses.
  • A method for getting rid of bad habits by hacking the brain’s internal “pleasure process” to replace a negative habit with a positive one.
  • A simple stress-reduction technique that researchers suggest can boost the effectiveness of therapy by over 60%.
  • Seven tips for parenting and supporting teenagers... even when they’re moody.
  • One critical activity that research suggests will keep your mind sharp as you age.

Best of all, each practical example included in this course is grounded in scientific research. You’ll be investing your time in worthwhile activities that are proven to show results, rather than trusting untested anecdotes and questionable theories whose effectiveness has not been verified.

A Vast and Complex Science Made Clear

From the very first lecture, you'll see just how far-reaching and remarkable the science of the brain is. But while the subject is complex, that doesn't mean that it’s difficult to understand.

Professor Medina is an award-winning molecular biologist at the University of Washington. His research background firmly grounds each lecture in the science. And, as a New York Times best-selling author and leading advocate for brain research, Professor Medina also has a unique ability to translate and communicate the great complexity of the brain in an understandable way to any student motivated to learn.

Yet most of all, the professor brings a deep passion for neuroscience and how knowledge about how our brain works can positively affect our daily lives. His enthusiasm and sense of wonder are clear throughout the course, and each lecture is filled with helpful metaphors, remarkable case studies, and intriguing—and at times, very amusing—ties to popular culture.

You’ll walk away from the course with a greater understanding of just what happens inside your head, and what you can do to ensure that your brain performs at the highest levels possible for years to come.

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24 lectures
 |  31 minutes each
  • 1
    How Your Brain Works
    Begin your journey with a "flight map" for your tour of the world's most sophisticated survival organ: the human brain. Establish some common language and principles for understanding and exploring the human brain. x
  • 2
    Your Unique Thinking Abilities
    What makes the human brain so different from the brains of other animals? Explore the brain's evolutionary journey, and discover the unique ability that allowed humans to not only survive in the face of change: but to thrive. x
  • 3
    Damaged Brain, Damaged Function
    The brain is a physical organ whose job is to process information. And if it's damaged, your processing can go haywire. Tour the physical structure of the brain, the three overall regions within it, and the role each part has in keeping you alive (including a look at your brain's internal "consciousness switch". x
  • 4
    Neuroplasticity: Your Flexible Brain
    Dive deeper into the physical structure of the brain and its components. Examine the three primary types of neuron wiring, how they operate on a cellular level, and how the brain is able to create new connections and pathways. x
  • 5
    How Your Brain Uses Memory
    Why are scientists so unsure of the exact definition of intelligence? Explore the challenges of measuring and quantifying intelligence, including the problem with IQ tests. Find out how researchers currently think about intelligence, and the implications these ideas have on the way we design school curriculums. x
  • 6
    The Advantages of Forgetting
    Discover the surprising evolutionary purpose of memory, and why it has nothing to do with recalling the precise details of the past like a computer. Find out what causes our brains to forget facts and data, and why. Then, get three research-based tips to improve your memory. x
  • 7
    Creativity and Fluid Intelligence
    What makes people creative? Scientists believe it may it hinge on two contrasting elements: open-mindedness and deep focus. Tour the neuroscience of creativity, explore the significance of working memory in the creative process, and learn how you can boost your creative output. x
  • 8
    How Your Brain Uses Your Senses
    The objective reality of the world around you and what your body senses are two very different things. Examine the three-step process the body uses to create sensations in response to outside stimuli. Then, learn a simple trick for using your senses to boost your ability to remember facts. x
  • 9
    Seeing with Your Brain: Vision
    We often think of vision being like a video camera: our eyes take a picture, and that's what we see. But that's not how the brain works. Uncover the complex process the brain uses to construct the hallucination that is our sense of vision. x
  • 10
    Feeling with Your Brain: Emotion
    Did you know that if you see a shocking photograph, you'll experience the emotion even before the image registers consciously in your mind? Why is this? What's happening in your brain? Investigate the physical process behind emotions, including the neurological "fast path" that accelerates our reaction to external threats. x
  • 11
    How Emotion Drives Attention
    Your senses bombard your brain with far more information than it can possibly handle at one time. How does your brain prioritize all of the input? Examine the brain's ability to act as a "central executive," and see how it uses emotion like post-it notes to decide what is important. x
  • 12
    Pleasure and Your Brain
    Explore the brain's "pleasure highway" with a tour of what drives the sensation of pleasure in our brains, and understand how video games and other substances hijack this process to create addictions. Then, learn how to harness your brain's craving for pleasure to break nearly any habit. x
  • 13
    What Makes You Happy
    Is happiness sustainable? What makes some people happier than others, despite similar life circumstances? Explore the stories of two lottery winners, one who crashed and another who thrived. Discover two key areas you can focus on to create a happier life. x
  • 14
    How Your Brain Manages Stress
    Though stress is usually considered negative, research reveals it is our perceived inability to control stress that does most of the damage. Unravel how the brain responds to stress on a neurological and chemical level, and survey what neuroscience research has to say about how to reduce stress in your life by learning to control it. x
  • 15
    Your Social Brain
    The social nature of human beings is an evolutionary advantage that put us at the top of the food chain. But our social abilities have the potential for painful or dangerous consequences. Reflect on the joys and risks of relating to others. Consider what a recent business school experiment uncovered about how you can more easily resolve conflicts. x
  • 16
    How Infant Brains Work
    The human brain is not fully functional until adulthood. From birth, an infant's brain is constantly making new connections as it experiences the world. Explore the development stages of an infant from a neuroscientific perspective, including what science recommends to ensure that your kids eat their veggies. x
  • 17
    How Adolescent Brains Work
    Peer into the often-mysterious behavior of a teenager. Why do they take the risks they do? What makes them rebellious? Why are they so moody? Get seven practical tips for relating better to teenagers, whether you're a parent, grandparent, teacher, mentor, or coach. x
  • 18
    Sex and Your Brain
    Dive into the evolutionary roles of sex, arousal, and promiscuity. Discover the fascinating biological and cultural differences between men and women when it comes to sex. Peer inside an enlightening study involving monkeys, naked men on the beach, and naked women doing aerobics. x
  • 19
    How Your Brain Ages
    For many, aging brings memory loss, decreased focus, and mental fogginess. Yet some people seem to be just as sharp at 100 years old as they were at 40. Discover what science has demonstrated about why some age more gracefully than others, and what you can do to keep your mind sharp as you grow older. x
  • 20
    How Your Brain Copes with Grief
    Why do we grieve the loss of loved ones? Is there an evolutionary reason for it? And why does grief leave some people devastated while others move on quickly? Explore these questions and more. Also, learn strategies from brain science for dealing with: and helping others deal with: the pain of great loss. x
  • 21
    How Self-Control Works
    Discover the origins of self-control in your brain. Explore what the research has to say about its role in helping you succeed in life, handle tough situations, and thrive in society. Examine an evolutionary explanation for cases of impaired self-control like ADHD. x
  • 22
    The Power of Exercise
    Decades of research points to exercise as a key for strengthening your brain. Find out how regular movement drastically improves cognitive performance, combats depression, and can even cut the risk of dementia in half. See just how much exercise you need to start seeing these benefits (it's less than you might think). x
  • 23
    Improving Your Memory
    Want to improve your memory? Learn what scientific research indicates is useful for improving memory: and more importantly, what popular beliefs have been debunked. Discover how you can use diet, social interaction, and even certain kinds of video games to increase your ability to remember events and details. x
  • 24
    Why Your Brain Needs Sleep
    You've probably noticed how poor sleep can hinder your ability to think and focus. But why exactly is sleep so important? How does it contribute to a healthy brain? Uncover answers to these questions and more, and get four science-backed tips for sleeping better. x

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  • Photos, illustrations & diagrams
  • Suggested readings
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Your professor

John  Medina

About Your Professor

John Medina, Ph. D.
University of Washington
Professor John J. Medina is an Affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Washington State University. In 2004, he was appointed to the rank of Affiliated Scholar at the National Academy of Engineering. His teaching recognitions include the University of Washington's College of Engineering Outstanding Faculty of the Year; the...
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Reviews

Your Best Brain is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 40.
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Your Best Brain I have seen more than fifty titles from the teaching company and this is clearly the least watchable of them all! The lecturer was a complete turnoff for me. His hokey presenting style, whiny voice, body language (those arms and hands!) and asinine pop-cultural references, were worse than tiresome - they gave me the shivers. I found I could not tolerate this man for more than a few minutes at a time, and certainly not for an entire lecture! He actually left me feeling somehow tarnished and violated. I was therefore unable to learn much of the material at all - a subject that interests me greatly - and could not possibly recommend 'your best brain' in any way to anyone.
Date published: 2015-08-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2015-07-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Found the teacher too goofy I think this teacher would be good for high school students who need a lot of jokes and hokey behavior to keep them interested. But I found it too distracting for adult learners. This teacher's style did not work for me. I prefer more professional presentations of the material. Professor Medina was just too goofy. I was disappointed in the presentation and even though I am interested in the material, I found I could not continue to watch this presenter.
Date published: 2015-05-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Presentation not acceptable After having watched other excellent brain science courses from the Great Courses, I expected another course of this quality. Unfortunately, this course was impossible to watch. The constant turning of cogwheels (a brilliant allusion of how the brain works?) is so distracting that I stopped watching the screen. That is combined with a pompous and often corny presentation with little new information. What does the title mean? Is there a good, a better, and a best brain? The course is less about brain science than about behavioral science and evolutionary psychology. I returned the course.
Date published: 2015-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Practical Neurology I have the DVD version of this course. I am a big fan of Dr. Medina's "Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School," so I was anticipating good things from this course. I was not disappointed. Dr. Medina mixed physiology, function and practical applications from those things we do know about the brain - although he was quick to tell us we know very little about the brain and how it really works. What we do know is fascinating and neurology is in an incredible growth period. Dr. Medina is an informative and entertaining guide to the brain and what we know about how to take care of it and use it to our best advantage. Recommend!
Date published: 2015-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from your best brain I really liked this course, it is an interesting topic but the best was the lively presentation, Prof Medina is excellent and gives a lot of simple examples which make it very easy to understand this complicated topic. Monika, age 54
Date published: 2015-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent overview
Date published: 2015-03-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed Response Your Best Brain generated a mixed response from my brain. Earlier reviewers seemed to either love or hate this course. My reaction is somewhere in between as I see good and bad parts in Professor Medina's presentation of this course. Professor Medina's presentation style is quite different from the typical TGC lecturer. He is jocular, colloquial, expressive (over a wide range), and blunt. Generally speaking this is refreshing. He comes across as one of those scientists who enjoys trying to bring science to the masses, in a very simple and relatively non-technical way. I applaud his efforts in this regard. However, that was not what I expected when I purchased this course. The course overview on the TGC website clearly states "Professor Medina walks you through the latest, peer-reviewed neuroscience research" leading me to expect some depth in the scientific information presented. The neuroscience research was more or less presented as "Researcher "X" worked on problem "Y" and here is what was concluded". In very few cases was there any real data shown let alone the details of the methodology used in the experiments. Presenting a bit more of this detail would be typical of a Science course, especially one advertised to be based on the latest peer-reviewed research. In his appeal to the masses, Dr. Medina uses analogies drawn from TV and film. However, many of these were quite dated from the 1950's, 60's, and 70's; with some stretching back even farther. I was born on the leading edge of the Baby Boom and a few of the cinematic examples were even before my time, so I'm not exactly sure how all of these entertainment references clicked with the masses. In one lecture, he says "For the two people out there who've never seen the film "It's A Wonderful Life" as he then goes on to give the plot line. Well I have two adult children both in graduate school in the biological sciences who I don't think ever saw that movie; I guess they are the two people he is talking about. Dr. Medina seems to really enjoy acting out some of the scenes from films, TV shows and commercials. This did add humor and did practice the memory encoding technique of using somewhat bizarre analogies to emphasize a point. However, it may have been a better use of time in a science course to use this "acting time" instead to discuss the merits of the science hypotheses and experiments. Nevertheless, this approach did make his lectures easy to listen to and it did enable him to introduce some real pearls of wisdom. And, I will give him credit, Dr. Medina is entertaining. His lectures are also well organized. There is a natural flow from Lectures 1 to 24 and within each lecture he practices the very effective technique of telling you what he is going to tell you at the beginning, telling it to you in the midst of the lecture, and then telling you what he told you.at the end while setting up the next lecture. The content of the course provides a good survey of the brain. I would characterize it at a self-help level of "getting to know your brain and how to keep it healthy for as long as possible". Dr. Medina provides many useful tips on how to maintain your brain health and vigor. I think this would be an excellent course under the topic "Better Living", but as a "Science and Mathematics" sub-topic "Neuroscience" course it doesn't quite have enough pith. More on this later. The set is one of the most high tech sets I have seen yet. There are three slightly curved screens of which the center and right screen are used to display the powerpoint slides, photographs, videos and occasional charts. This part is very effective. On the left screen is a silhouette of a human head with gears constantly turning inside. I found this very distracting and it added very little value to the presentation; coming across as more of a gimmick. Despite this distraction, I recommend the video version as Dr. Medina speaks directly to the photos, etc assuming you are looking at them. The course guidebook also has its pluses and minuses. The lecture summaries are very complete, and unless you really want the details of the acting out of all the TV and film references, a transcript book is not needed as a reference to the course. The "questions to consider" at the end of each lecture summary contain a true-false , a multiple choice, and a "word answer" question. All questions basically are asked to see if you got the points he made in the lectures, they are not thought provoking in the least. Answers are even provided in the back of the guidebook. The guidebook does contain a bibliography but no glossary or biographic notes. The later would have been helpful for anyone interested in pursuing more information about the researchers who were mentioned. A list of websites with the real science behind the conclusions drawn in the lectures would also have helped. Would I recommend this course? That depends. To the non-scientist lay person who is just looking for a survey course about how the brain works, brain disorders, and what someone can do about improving their own brain health this could be a spot on course. However, if you are less than about 50 years old many of the TV and film analogies may not work for you. For the college student (or former one) how is double majoring in social psychology and TV/film studies this course is perfect. For anyone who is really interested in getting into neuroscience, especially understanding the latest research, this course will disappoint. If you are new to studying this field, you may find this to be a good survey course and starting point from which to jump into more in depth science courses. For the more science minded student of neuroscience I would make the following recommendations. To understand the function and anatomy of the brain, central and peripheral nervous systems I recommend the TGC course "Understanding the Brain" by Dr. Jeanette Norden. For a more detailed understanding of how memory works I recommend TGC's "Memory and Human Lifespan" by Dr. Steve Joordens, for a more comprehensive discussion of Stress on brain function I recommend TGC's "Stress and the Your Body" by Dr. Robert Sapolsky. To the TGC curricula team I have a suggestion. I think you should repackage and re-market "Your Best Brain" as a "Better Living" course instead of as a "Science and Mathematics Course". I believe Dr. Medina's style is ideally suited for that type of self-help course. I think then that you could ask Dr. Restak, who teaches "Optimizing Brain Fitness", a "Better Living" course, which he seems less comfortable teaching, to teach instead a course in "Neuroscience: the latest research" which he would be excellent at. Just an idea.
Date published: 2015-03-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from No, not this time Although I purchase enough Great Courses to own part of the company, this silly, graphic-laden series is the worst. The professor talks to us like 1st-graders...and...he will not put his arms down. Each time I try to watch, I'm gone inside of five minutes.
Date published: 2015-02-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Your Best Brain I found the material to be relevant, interesting and valuable. The Professor's knowledge of the subject, his teaching style and delivery techniques are exceptional and effective. The only disappointing element of this learning experience was the "Active Backgrounds" that were employed behind the professor. The constant rotating movement of gears contained within the outline of a human face was distracting and it caused my eye to wonder towards the rotations during the lectures; somewhat annoying.
Date published: 2015-02-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a good coutse this course provides good advice for brain improvement
Date published: 2015-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A practical course I have taken other very academic Great Courses on the brain. As soon as I started this course, I saw a professor who jokes around and makes what he presents very understandable. So at first I thought that this course would not present anything new that was not presented in other courses on the brain or would not present anything of deep content. I was wrong. This course presents a scientific view of the brain as it applies in practice in life. It complements and does not replace the more academic courses that go into more detail on the different parts of the brain, but then again the more academic courses do not replace this one either. I recommend this course for everyone, but if a person is just interested on how brain science can be applied to everyday life, I recommend this one over the more academic ones.
Date published: 2015-02-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Worst of 58 purchased courses. I found the lecturer and his style of communication to be unprofessional and distracting. As well as the set background graphics to be jerky and annoying.
Date published: 2015-02-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from He's good with the metaphors The presenter is powerful in his voice and joy of the subject. Maybe a little too much for me. He makes his points using metaphors and stories. He does include science which is great.
Date published: 2015-02-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Class for All Levels I liked this class but had to get past the instructors annoying voice modulations (often going into falsetto voice for a syllable to make a point). I have taken the other brain related classes offered by the Great Courses and found this class to be less academic, but still quite interesting. I liked how the course was designed to emphasize the various functions of the brain. I found the sections on the senses to be of particular interest. This course is at a level that could be easily understood by all levels and I would recommend it even for high school students. Even though this would be an entry level course, it still was packed full of lots of good, new to me, interesting information. I did have the video version, but think you would be fine with the audio.
Date published: 2015-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2015-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Your Best Brain Many aspects of human learning, memory and behavior were made clear - I wish I had these insights much earlier in my life, it would've been very helpful. Professor loves the subject, lively presentation, great pace for an audio course on my commute. Dan S.
Date published: 2015-02-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from This would be a good course for beginners. Kind of disappointing for anyone who has already had anatomy.
Date published: 2015-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this professor! Great course with an engaging professor and interesting content. The whole family enjoys watching this together, including 3 teen boys age 12 and up.
Date published: 2015-01-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Fireworks over Contents! In this series of 24 lectures produced in 2014, Professor John Medina sets out to present current knowledge on the functioning of the human brain. To say the least, Professor Medina’s style is flamboyant, upbeat and enthusiastic, his talks somewhat reminiscent of the introduction to Disneyworld rides. They are flavoured with multiple anecdotes that are often anchored in popular culture and the mid-20th century: Bambi, Shirley Temple, The Ed Sullivan Show and the Beatles, the original Star Trek series, the Carol Burnett Show, specific TV commercials for breakfast cereals, etc. Indeed, these asides are so abundant that it is frequently difficult to follow Professor Medina’s train of thoughts. Thus, the result is entertaining but not all that substantial and consequently a bit exasperating. This glitzy approach on Dr. Medina’s part may be due in part to the fact that the field of brain science is rapidly evolving and that, as he says repeatedly, the answer to many questions is simply: « We don’t know ». Perhaps, therefore, it would be difficult for him to vulgarize material in a more organized, definitive fashion since it appears the stage of knowledge this would require has simply not yet been reached. In that sense, some may consider it revealing that the final lecture is not devoted to any synthesis of the course but simply to presenting more original material. Professor Medina presents many experiments and results already covered in Professor Peter Vishton’s course « Understanding the Secrets of Human Perception ». Though imperfect, the latter definitely constitutes a much better offering than « Your Best Brain ».
Date published: 2015-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magical Mystery Tour Is this really a TGC product? I mean it’s just not like other courses. In a good way though! First, the blue, PowerPoint, high-tech set was cool. Easy to focus, I think. The professor, John Medina, was memorable: sometimes a handful and energetic, but always memorable; a fine speaker with a very well-written script; charismatic and eats up the screen with his effervescent smile and laugh; tons of pictures and videos making the video worthwhile. The content was interesting and fits nicely with other neuroscience offerings. It’s nothing quite like courses by Jenette Norden or Sam Wong, both of which I also liked. That’s neither good nor bad. Just different. Here’s what’s interesting. He walks the walk. Generally speaking, attention spans max out at 10 minutes before we drift; and we tend to ignore what’s boring. Knowing this, he optimizes each lecture so we’ll pay attention. We’re greeted with a big hook at the beginning of each lecture—some kind of illustrative story from the news, YouTube, the Internet, literature, or wherever. The lectures are divided into three parts, roughly ten minutes each. He also does classic preview-tell um-recap. There are some good presentation tips to emulate. The Guidebook was really good. At the end of each unit were a series of quizzes: T/F, multiple choice, and the usual essay question. The quizzes were something new, right! The only real let down was that brain anatomy was left out almost completely. One lecture, #3 or #4 described the parts of the brain but that was it. And when it came time to reference any anatomy, it was avoided or used in tandem with analogies to spiders, peas, cauliflower, etc. It worked for me and I enjoyed it…I guess…but some people might prefer a more traditional approach. Anyway, this course was more about how the brain functions—it covers the wonders of being human, the magic and mystery of having a brain, not so much the brain itself. In short, it’s a great addition to neuroscience courses I have. Kudos to TGC for getting John Medina to present these lectures. I hope he does another course in the future. There's a bit of overlap with his book Brain Rules, which I also recommend.
Date published: 2015-01-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from I don't know what the title means. I only have one I started on the course Your Best Brain hoping to find out how our brains, just a mass of cells, can produce the capabilities that make us human such as our thoughts, our memories, our imagination and our feelings such as love and care. Your invitation to write a review of the Great Course Your Best Brain starts out with "The most complex object in the known universe is the human brain. We all have a basic conception of how our brains function" Well I had some idea of what my brain did in regard to memory, emotion memory and so on. But I didn't have any idea as to the how the brain actually functioned to produce those results. That was what I wanted to know. Well it seems that Professor Medina doesn't know how the brain functions either. There are many statements in the book to confirm that he doesn't know either. Just for example. Lesson 8. "You are seeing shapes but you are perceiving meaning. How does the brain do that? We have no idea" Lesson 9. "Your brain is making all kinds of decisions about what it is observing. How does it do that? Despite heroic advances, we mostly don't know" Well I think the course is very good in describing what it does. But there is no explanation to how it actually does these things.
Date published: 2015-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best brain I very much enjoyed this course. Professor Media's presentation is lively and witty. He uses anecdotes and metaphors to get his point across. One learns about the structure of the brain and what one has learned about its function during the 1st and 2nd word war, when certain brain injuries of soldiers produced a loss of specific functions. Differences in in animal and human brains are explained. One learns about human behavior and which parts of the brain control them and about brain changes from childhood to adulthood. I highly recommend this course
Date published: 2015-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Done The enthusiasm and energy of the presenting professor was engaging. Each lecture was well organized and gave not only information but also practical exercises that brought fascinating science to daily living. I wish all my professors had been of this caliber. I look forward to more courses! Thank you!
Date published: 2015-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2015-01-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Professor Very interesting presentation. Mixes art, literature, modern culture and humor with science. It's his personality but just a little too much for a series of lectures. One presentation at a conference would be entertaining. Otherwise he sound like he's on Sesame Street.
Date published: 2014-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Brain I have more Great Courses than I can count and they never fail to please. Best Brain is among the best. Dr. Medina's presentation is so upbeat that even when I don't understand the concept the first time I don't feel frustrated, I just rewind a bit and listen again. I rarely fail to get it the second time. I have some background in anatomy but I wish for pictures sometimes just to refresh my memory. Not really necessary but helpful. I particularly like the absolute scientific basis of his lectures especially when he connects it to age old wisdom practices. Really fun!
Date published: 2014-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lively Speaker Not only was the professor both informed and informative, but he was a lively speaker. He was very humorous and you could tell he enjoyed speaking and presenting the course.
Date published: 2014-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course This course (the audio version) takes listeners on a fascinating journey across the landscape of brain research and its influences on what we can do about making the most of our brain functions. I found this course interesting, informative and constantly surprising about what we can learn from the research. Dr Medina is an excellent lecturer. At first, I found his exuberance a little too energetic for a set of recorded lectures, but it grows on you after a while. Eventually, his style emerges as a welcome feature of this course. His enthusiasm for the subject matter cannot be denied, and he is very adept at making the science accessible to a generalist audience. His use of anecdotes, metaphors and images to help listeners develop an understanding of the workings of the brain is very effective. This course was the audio equivalent of a page turner, and I found it hard to stop listening. Amazingly, too, there is a lot of practical advice in these lectures.
Date published: 2014-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2014-12-09
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