In ‘Brain Rules,’ John Medina hopes to open up your eyes and mind
If terms like “interactive synchrony,” “mirror-neuron activity” and “inductive discipline” make your eyes glaze over, join the club. As the learning-on-the-job father of a scrappy eight-month old, I entered the world of developmental molecular biologist John Medina with skepticism. After all, the author of “Brain Rules” and “Brain Rules for Baby” isn’t doing any actual scientific research on the brain or on child rearing, he’s merely formatting the science that’s already out there into an interface the rest of us can hopefully use.
The author Medina doesn’t shy away from the occasional mouthful; “In the brain, the fights appear to be between deferred-imitation instincts and moral-internalization proclivities” is one sentence that springs to mind, in the section he devotes to “aversive stimulus,” i.e. punishment. But if you bear with him, Medina’s conclusions are practically bulletproof. Although 94 percent of Americans have spanked their child at least once by their kid’s fourth birthday, Medina is against the practice. The 3-year-olds who were spanked more than twice in the month prior to a recent Tulane University study were 50 percent more likely to be more aggressive by age 5. Hence imitation is a stronger force than “moral internalization.” It all makes sense, when you stop to think about it.