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YOU ARE HERE >> Ageless Learner > Introductions > Brain & Cognition
How Your Brain Learns

While we develop this introduction we link you to some of our favorite resources
focused on the brain and cognition. Smart, aye?

Your brain has a capacity for learning that is virtually limitless,
which makes every human a potential genius.

— Michael J. Gelb

  Mental Floss blurs the lines between a great education and great entertainment. Quick, fun, and educational! Jam-packed with pages of quick tidbits, quirky facts, and juicy history, this eclectic magazine teaches you everything you should have learned in school but didn't. Subscribe to Mental Floss.

Rich Persuad's Brainwiring site discusses how your personal style of brain wiring affects your life and learning. Brain Wiring is a colloquial term for neurobiochemistry, the complex interaction among genetics, experience, and biochemistry that takes place in the brain.

The Thinking Page is a terrific source for information on improving organizational and individual thinking. The Thinking Page is divided into five sections, each with its own perspective on thinking and its own unique insights. The five sections are systems thinking (the perspective that helps us see and understand the big picture in new ways), creativity (channeling creativity creates innovation and improvement), cybernetics (helping us understand feedback and improve decision making), cognition (deciphering the effects of biology, culture, and experience on our thinking), and reflexions (a column of thoughts about thinking.)

MindWare Online offers brainy toys for kids of all ages. We are particularly fond of Zome Tools, Roger's Connections, and Fractal 7. Challenge yourself with the Perplexer of the Week. See their specials.

The Learning Brain is an outstanding monthly newsletter featuring articles on the leading-edge of brain research. Each month writers and researchers bring you the latest findings on the brain and learning. They weave neuroscientific discoveries into something immediate, specific, and easy-to-implement the very next workday. This online newsletter will revolutionize the way you teach, train, or serve as a change agent, parent, or administrator.

CIO Magazine's Human Behavior Forum is a terrific resources in an unlikely place. Why did CIO create this space? Human behavior is an unquestionable component of Internet development. Existing ways that we act upon the world infiltrate and shape the Web while at the same time new ones are created. This research center attempts to explore the impact behavior has on shaping the Web and to detect novel behaviors that emerge as a result of this newer communications technology. The general guideline for inclusion of resources on these pages is information that explores the reciprocal relationship between behavior and the Web, not one or the other as separate entities. offers lots of links and ideas to help you "Work Smarter, Learn Faster and Manage Information More Effectively"

Jensen Learning Corporation website specialized in brain research applied to learning. They also put on conferences, training programs, and publish all sorts of materials.

Brainpool Learning Cafe will help you find high quality learning and networking events for people interested in new ideas and new ways of working. Also visit the Ripples newsletter.

Brain of Stig is the personal website of Stig Hackvän. Brain bending and inspiring!

Jane's Brain Page offers a layman's view of brain chemistry, biochemical basis of behavior, personality, perception, emotions, and more.


Do we really use only 10 percent of our brains? Barry L. Beyerstein of the Brain Behavior Laboratory at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver explains. Scientific American, April 2004. Whenever I venture out of the Ivory Tower to deliver public lectures about the brain, by far the most likely question I can expect as the talk winds up is, "Do we really only use 10 percent of our brains?" The look of disappointment that usually follows when I say it isn't so strongly suggests that the 10-percent myth is one of those hopeful shibboleths that refuses to die simply because it would be so darn nice if it were true. I'm sure none of us would turn down a mighty hike in brainpower if it were attainable, and a seemingly never-ending stream of crackpot schemes and devices continues to be advanced by hucksters who trade on the myth. Always on the lookout for a "feel-good" story, the media have also played their part in keeping the myth alive. [added April-9-04]


See a full list of brain-related books.

Inevitable Illusions Art of Memory by Francis A. Yates

The Brain Book by Peter Russell (New York: Plume, 1979)

The Cerebral Code: Thinking a Thought in the Mosaics of the Mind. by William H. Calvin (Bradford Books, 1998)

Conversations With Neil's Brain: The Neural Nature of Thought and Language by William H. Calvin, George A. Ojemann (Perseus Press, 1995)

Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America With Einstein's Brain

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. This outstanding book discusses the role emotions play in our lives. Skilled at making scientific data quite readable, Goleman demonstrates that paying attention to the development of emotions is at least as important as paying attention to the development of intellect. He pinpoints some of the "next steps" in brain and educational research that could follow the cognitive science movement. And most importantly, Goleman suggests that emotional intelligence can and should be taught.

The Everyday Genius by Peter Kline

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszenthmihalyi. This brilliant work explains how to enter a state in which we become so engrossed in an activity that we lose all sense of time. Csikszenthmihalyi examines what it takes to enter this state, and what happens once we are in it.

Frames of Mind by Howard Gardner. This extremely important book introduces the notion of multiple intelligence. Basically, Gardner asserts that intelligence consists of seven parts, and that we all have different strengths and weaknesses among our seven parts. Vastly detailed, this resource can make for tough reading.

How Brains Think: Evolving Intelligence, Then and Now by William H. Calvin.

How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci: Seven Steps to Everyday Genius by Michael Gelb (Delacorte Press, 1998)

How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life by Thomas Gilovich.

How We Think by John Dewey

Human Brain and Human Learning by Leslie A. Hart. This book explores the relationship between how the brain works and how we learn best. It is slightly more technical than Making Connections, discussed below. Hart also offers an excellent overview of the evolution of the public educational system.

Inevitable Illusions: How Mistakes of Reason Rule Our Minds by Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini (John Wiley & Sons, English reissue 1996)

Intelligence Reframed by Howard Gardner

Irrationality: Why We Don't Think Straight! by Stuart Sutherland (1994)

Judgment Under Uncertainty by Daniel Kahneman, editor.

Jump Start Your Brain by Doug Hall and David Wecker (1996)

Inner Time: The Science of Body Clocks and What Makes Us Tick by Carol Orlock (Birch Lane Press, 1993). This book tells a compelling story of how your internal body clock influences all aspects of your life. This book was re-released as Know Your Body Clock: Discover Your Body's Inner Cycles and Rhythms and Learn the Best Times for Creativity, Exercise, Sex, Sleep, and More by Carol Orlock (Birch Lane Press, 1995)

Making Choices: A Recasting of Decision Theory by Frederic Schick. 1997.

Making Connections by R. Caine, and G. Caine. This fantastic book discusses the relationship between the way the brain works and the way people like to learn. It suggests that how the brain works does matter and provides a holistic view of learning.

The Meme Machine by Susan Blackmore, forward by Richard Dawkins (Oxford University Press, 2000). My most favorite examination of evolution and memetics (memes) examines complexity as it influences all aspects of life and society.

Memory and Attention: An introduction to human information processing by Donald A. Norman (John Wiley & Sons, 1969). This book is no longer in print, but if you find a copy, get it!

The Mind's New Science by Howard Gardner. This book reviews the history of the cognitive science movement and describes the many disciplines comprising it. Readers will gain an appreciation for the variety of cognitive science and its power. Tough to read and understand, this title is not for the faint-of-heart.

Mindmapping by Joyce Wycoff. Berkley Books, 1991.

The Muse in the Machine: Computerizing the Poetry of Human Thought by David Hillel Gelernter (Free Press, 1994)

The Owner's Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind-Brain Research by Pierce J. Howard (Leornian Press, 1994)

Practical Intelligence in Everyday Life by Robert J. Sternberg

The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making by Scott Plous (McGraw-Hill, 1993)

Research on Judgment and Decision Making: Currents, Connections, and Controversies. William M. Goldstein and Robin M. Hogarth, editors (1997)

Successful Intelligence by Robert J. Sternberg

Teach Yourself To Think by Edward de Bono

Theories of Development by Crain. This book gives a methodical breakdown of the child development theories put forth by some of the most significant theorists of our time.

Things That Make Us Smart: Defending Human Attributes in the Age of the Machine  by Donald A. Norman

Thinking for a Change Michael J. Gelb (1996)

Tools for Thought Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-expanding Technology (2nd edition) by Howard Rheingold (MIT Press, 2000). The original version of this book can be found online at

The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size by Tor Nrretranders and Jonathan Sydenham, translator (Viking Press, 1999). While this book is mostly about consciousness, a good portion offers a thorough examination of information, complexity, and order as a way to examine what we do (or don't) know. These notions are woven together as the discussion of how our consciousness works begins.

Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin. Download the book for free from Godin's website [requires Acrobat .pdf ] Godin wants to prove that ideas, like viruses, can become contagious and that information can spread most effectively from customer to customer, rather than from controlling marketer to the customer. He's also selling it in book form for $40 and expects it to sell.

Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid by Robert J. Sternberg


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Last Updated:
April 9, 2005