A User's Manual for your Brain


BrainReady is thrilled to feature our first special guest Blog contributor, Dr. Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D, who many of you may already be familiar with (and a fan of) from the hit book series "FISH!" (over 6 million sold worldwide), the new , and his numerous public speaking appearances around the globe over the last decade.

We are honored that "Dr. Tuna", as he is sometimes affectionately known, has partnered with BrainReady to share his knowledge and wisdom on the human with all of us...

Welcome, Steve!

"A User's Manual for your Brain"
- by Dr. Stephen C. Lundin

Hello, please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Steve Lundin and I have a lifelong, passionate interest in the brain.  I am also a writer, documentary film maker and educator, and you may already be familiar with some of my works such as the FISH! books series and Top
Performer: A Bold Approach to Sales and Service.  My next book, CATS: The Nine Lives of Innovation will be published in August, 2007.

I plan to make occasional contributions to this amazing BrainReady web site and educational service, in which I will focus on the "operations manual", so to speak, for that ever-elusive and fascinating brain of ours.

It's interesting: when you buy a watch, you get five pages of instructions. With a computer, you get hundreds of pages.  But you come into the world with this
amazing thing called a brain, but where is the operations manual?

My hope is that the tools, exercises and insights provided here should allow you to develop your own "user's manual" for that orb on top of your neck.

I will draw on my own existing work for reference, as well as the works of Tony Buzan, Edward deBono, Vanda North, Jamie Nast, Jimmy Tan, and others who I feel have written relevant insights which will help you to get the most from your brain.

Before we go further, perhaps I should provide some background regarding my lifelong interest in the brain: while working at Camp Courage, a camp for physically challenged children and adults, I met a woman who was about to have alcohol injected into her brain to destroy some of the web-like structure that accounted for a lot of her uncontrolled movement. She had cerebral palsy. 
I listened to her describe the procedure that she was about to undergo, and then wished her well.

The next summer when I returned to Camp Courage, I met with her again, and noticed that the uncontrolled movement problem had improved somewhat, but her sparkling personality that I remembered fondly was also gone. That night I wept quiet tears in my cabin and decided to learn as much as I could about the brain, and how people learn.

So it was not surprising that I later decided to study educational psychology.

One day, a distinguished professor from another campus came by and posed a question to a small group of graduate students: "What have you learned that can be of direct and immediate help to a learner?" 

We shuffled with embarrassment and not one of us could provide an example.  Sure, our heads were full of theories, but the practical had escaped us.  It was at that moment that I decided to find the practical in my work.  I have been searching for the simplicity inside complexity ever since.

So, for our first BrainReady topic: Primacy and Recency

The brain remembers some things much more easily than other things because of their position in time and the degree to which they are outstanding.  Today we are going to consider primacy and recency.

Suppose you are reading a list of words that is long enough that you can't possibly remember them all;

1.  You would remember more of the words at the beginning of the list.  This is called the Primacy Effect.

2.  You would remember many of the words at the end of the list. This is called the Recency Effect.

This can be a useful piece of information in managing your brain and maximizing your impact on the brains of others, and here's how you can put this into practice right away:

Ask yourself the following questions:

How do I start my meetings, talks and memos?

What is the first thing I do in the morning?

How do I end my meetings, talks and memos?

What is the last thing I do at night?

In a program with many presenters, do you ask to kickoff or wrap up? (Assumes of course that you want to be remembered.)

When you have something to talk over with a colleague that is of great importance: do you schedule the meeting at the beginning of the day, before lunch, after lunch or at the end of the day?

Do you use headings in your presentations to create more recency and primacy?

Do you send the little ones to bed with a, "daddy (or mommy) loves you?"

In my next blog for BrainReady, we will look at why learning more about a subject helps you remember more, not less.

All the best,


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