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Your Best Brain

Probe the origins of consciousness, intelligence, and more and learn scientifically-proven methods to improve your memory, boost your creativity, and keep your mind sharp.
Your Best Brain is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 56.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Take My Brain Science, Please… Dr. Medina presents an entertaining overview of the brain. Sometimes it seems that he divides his priorities equally between his subject and entertainment. There are times when this course disagrees with other courses offered by The Great Courses (TGC). He calls one thing emphasized by Dr. Norden in Understanding the Brain a “myth.” One should be aware of the disagreements but not overly concerned; free and open debate is an essential part of science. This course is essentially a collection of topical lectures loosely connected by brain science. Topics include vision and the brain, depression and the brain, happiness and the brain, the sex act and the brain, development of the brain in infants, development of the brain in adolescents, and aging and the brain. Most lectures begin with a hook of some sort, often a cultural icon such as Star Trek, the Johnny Carson Show, or the Ed Sullivan Show, which Dr. Medina uses as an illustration for the topic at hand. From there, he uses evolution (which he emphasizes is a fact, not a theory) to explain why humans are the way they are for the lecture topic. The lecture closes with practical applications. Dr. Medina’s lecture style seemed to me to be like that of a disc jockey with a PhD. There are frequent digressions into amusing anecdotes or outright jokes. Sometimes it seemed to me that there were more jokes than enlightening graphics, which is odd for a course on brain science. The course guide is average by TGC standards. It is written in bullet format (as opposed to paragraph or outline format) and thus is similar to PowerPoint slides. It averages more than 7 pages per lecture, which seems to be about average by TGC standards. Oddly, there is only one useful graphic in the entire course guide, a highly simplified diagram of a brain. Each lecture has a few questions to review the material in the lecture; answers are in the back of the course guide. There is a bibliography but the items do not include a brief statement of how that reference might be useful to the student. I used the video version of this course. It has a look and feel that is different from most TGC offerings; it seems to play up the entertainment angle. Both the scientific material and the jokes work just as well in audio-only format such as while jogging or commuting. The course was published in 2014.
Date published: 2023-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding professor John Medina is one of the very best professors I’ve seen on great courses. The material was informative and delivered entertainingly.
Date published: 2022-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Your best brain Fantastic, I have seen 5 other courses on the brain, but this instructor was amazing.
Date published: 2022-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from informative & entertaining Prof Medina has a style that makes his presentation not only informative (he's a very good lecturer), but also entertaining. This course provides a good overview understanding of various ways the brain works.
Date published: 2022-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So informative This course is excellent. It answered so many questions that I had regarding memories, the learning process etc. The presenter keeps it informative, interesting, fun and rolling along at just the right pace.
Date published: 2021-08-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Mostly stories and analogies This is not what I expected! Very little information about the brain and how it functions. The videos are full overly dramatized stories and analogies that frankly will bore you to death!
Date published: 2021-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lively I watched one lecture for an assignment. Honestly, I hardly pay attention when I so-called watch random lectures. I suppose it makes me feel like I am productive to hear it. However, when I would adventure away for purposeful distraction, this professor would catch my attention with his creativity and liveliness. Thank you for not being dry and boring!
Date published: 2020-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clearing Cobwebs I like the presenters approach, he dispels the myths that has been told and generally accepted by the public for so long. It’s like a broom sweeping away the cobwebs in the corners. His argument will make you smile. Please review this course as a possible addition to your collection. EddyG
Date published: 2019-03-20
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The most complex object in the known universe is the human brain. We all have a basic conception of how our brains function, but do you truly understand the inner workings of your mind? In 24 exciting lectures, probe the origins of consciousness, memory, emotion, attention, intelligence, and more. Also, learn scientifically proven methods to improve your memory, boost your creativity, and keep your mind sharp.


John Medina

We are making great progress on the biological origins of human behavior. At the same time, we have a really long way to go.


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 Merrell Dow/Continuing Medical Education National Teacher of the Year; and, twice, the Bioengineering Student Association Teacher of the Year. Professor Medina has been a consultant to the Education Commission of the States and a regular speaker on the relationship between the cognitive neurosciences and education. With a lifelong fascination with how the mind reacts to and organizes information, Professor Medina is a leading advocate for brain research and its potential application to real world problems. He founded two leading brain research institutes and has spent most of his professional life as a private analytical research consultant, working in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, aerospace, and technology industries on issues related to mental health. He is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestseller Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School.

By This Professor

Your Best Brain
Your Best Brain


How Your Brain Works

01: 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.

35 min
Your Unique Thinking Abilities

02: 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....

31 min
Damaged Brain, Damaged Function

03: 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")....

31 min
Neuroplasticity-Your Flexible Brain

04: 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....

34 min
How Your Brain Uses Memory

05: 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....

33 min
The Advantages of Forgetting

06: 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....

34 min
Creativity and Fluid Intelligence

07: 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....

33 min
How Your Brain Uses Your Senses

08: 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....

32 min
Seeing with Your Brain-Vision

09: 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....

31 min
Feeling with Your Brain-Emotion

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....

33 min
How Emotion Drives Attention

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....

32 min
Pleasure and Your Brain

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....

33 min
What Makes You Happy

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....

34 min
How Your Brain Manages Stress

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....

31 min
Your Social Brain

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....

31 min
How Infant Brains Work

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....

32 min
How Adolescent Brains Work

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....

33 min
Sex and Your Brain

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....

31 min
How Your Brain Ages

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....

29 min
How Your Brain Copes with Grief

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....

30 min
How Self-Control Works

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....

32 min
The Power of Exercise

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)....

33 min
Improving Your Memory

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....

33 min
Why Your Brain Needs Sleep

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....

33 min