How Different Brain Types Affect Study Habits, with Chloe Amen

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

When it comes to study habits and organization, finding the right balance in your routine can mean the difference between success and failure. However, that balance can be entirely different for people with different brain types. In the second episode of a series on the brain at school, Dr. Amen and Tana are again joined by their daughter Chloe for a discussion on how to optimize your brain to best set you up for success in the classroom.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Welcome back. We are on day two talking about change your brain, change your grades. I'm so excited and so happy. We've got Chloe here. Chloe's our 15-year-old daughter. It's just such an honor to have her be part of this book.
Chloe Amen: Thank you.
Tana Amen: Today we're talking about brain types and how that affects your studying. It's fun because we have Chloe part of the book, and we have our niece, Alize, is also part of the book.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Who you will meet coming up.
Tana Amen: In the second week, the second half of this. Their brains are exactly opposite. They couldn't be more opposite. We should talk a little bit about that and how it affects them. They're both excellent students. For opposite reasons, it could have affected them in very negative ways. We should talk about that and how they've overcome, how you've overcome.
Dr. Daniel Amen: We actually talk about it when we write that when we scanned Chloe, she had a very busy Brian.
Tana Amen: Very busy, very anxious.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And needed things a certain way.
Tana Amen: She could get really stuck.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Having her place of study organized as she likes it that fits, where Alize actually has a sleepy brain.
Tana Amen: And can be very disorganized by nature.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's not nearly as important to her, but it can also cause her great stress because both of them love doing well in school, and they come at it from very different. In the book we talk about brain types, how everybody's brain is not the same, and that you should know your type and then work on optimizing.
Tana Amen: Right. We've come up with strategies to help Chloe. For example, there are certain supplements that help her to settle her down. We'll talk more about that. Also, you touched on one of them, her workspace has to be a certain way. Chloe needs things to be very organized. Well, she's less rigid now. When you were young, you were rigid.
Chloe Amen: I've gotten better, yes.
Tana Amen: So, she needs things to be organized though. If you walk into Alize's room, it's a very different story. Her room looks completely different. That's not as important to her, but that can be a challenge for her because when things aren't organized, she can then get stressed out because she can't find things, or she's running late. So, she had to learn how to work within her type as well.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What makes Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades different than virtually every other study book you could read is the foundational principle of Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades is get your brain right, and learning follows, that if you don't take care of the physical functioning of your brain, so eating right, exercising, not using drugs, putting your brain in a healing environment is the number one most important thing to doing well.
Tana Amen: What do you think? What's been the best for you with your brain type with knowing?
Chloe Amen: Okay, so for me the big thing, especially lately, just in the past year because I'm a junior now and sophomore and junior year, it gets real.
Tana Amen: The workload is heavy, yes.
Chloe Amen: Yeah. I think for me the biggest thing I've had to overcome in this past year and going into this year now is balance because you were just saying how Alize and I even have very different brain types. It's a really good example because she has had to overcome certain aspects of naturally not quite being as rigid or not being as organized, and I'm naturally very organized. One thing I've learned is that for me it's achieving balance because being super organized and being really rigid sometimes doesn't serve you in school either. It doesn't serve you in setting either because you're not going to be able to control everything. Your workspace is sometimes not going to be how you want it to be. Not everything's going to go how you want it to go. Not all of your lessons are going to go how you want it to go.
Tana Amen: That's a really good point.
Chloe Amen: Yeah. Being super organized by nature, being organized is good. Wanting to be organized as good.
Tana Amen: Being rigid is different.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Did you ever have this perfectionistic quality?
Tana Amen: Not the same way she does, but we used to put flexibility on her chore chart. Remember that?
Chloe Amen: There comes a point when if you're too rigid, and too organized and you're so stuck on it, your productivity actually starts to-
Tana Amen: God down.
Chloe Amen: Decline because you get stuck on little things. If you can't let go one test missing those couple of questions, it's like , "I studied that, I studied that, I studied that. Why did I get it wrong? I shouldn't have got it wrong."
Tana Amen: That was me.
Chloe Amen: If you can't get past that, you're going to get tripped up on the next test too because you can't get over that one.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It's looping.
Chloe Amen: It's looping, right.
Tana Amen: That was actually me in college. If I got a 95 on a test, I could only focus on the 5% I missed. That's a very good point.
Dr. Daniel Amen: What did you say about perfection?
Tana Amen: Perfectionism is an excuse to fail. Especially for women, we get stuck in this loop of I have to do it perfectly, and if I can't do it perfectly, I'm not going to do it at all. I'm going to pick up my toys and go home. You end up not meeting your potential.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, and another really interesting thing about Chloe when we scanned her, the front part of her brain was really busy. That can go with worry and trouble letting things go. But her cerebellum in the back bottom part of her brain was sleepy. That's the processor in the brain. We used to, more you than me, but used to get upset because she'd try a sport and then she'd quit because she couldn't be perfect. She also struggled with the coordination part. One of the big things is she then started dance.
Tana Amen: And martial arts.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Dance is a coordination exercise. So, actually working on the vulnerable area of your brain, strengthening that, I've just seen every other part of you get better.
Tana Amen: Well, dance and martial arts really helped.
Chloe Amen: The past year, year and a half I've taken on doing so many different things that are not even related to each other.
Tana Amen: Out of your comfort zone, too.
Chloe Amen: Out of my comfort zone that I'm not naturally good at and that it doesn't just come easy. Something I want to add to what you were just saying is for me it's changing the actual thought. It's changing the perspective around it because all these things that I've taken on, they're more opportunities to succeed, but there are also more opportunities to fail, right? When I started taking on all these certain things, I'm like, "Oh, but if I'm not good at that. or I'm not good today at this, or if I'm lacking in this area, that's a chance I might fail at this." What I had to do is just go in, actually into my thought, into my mindset, and change it to, "Okay, well, I didn't do as well as I wanted to today, but this is just basically a stepping stone to the next step of what I'm going into.
I actually read ... What was the book? I don't remember what the book was. I'm kind of getting off topic now. I read a book that had a really good reference, a really good line. It basically said that you know you've improved when you are not as good at a new thing or a new level of something that you started because if you're working in stages, here's the bottom, here's the top. If you're working in different levels, in order to get to the top of one level, you have to start at the bottom. You get to the top of one level, and then you start at the bottom of the next one, and then you work right up to the top again. You're at the bottom.
Tana Amen: You're not supposed to be good when you start.
Chloe Amen: That's how I've had to change it because every time I'd start, I'd do something wrong or I would "fail." My first reaction is, "I'm not good at this. I failed. I don't look good doing this." But then it's just like, deep breath. It's just a change in mindset that's like, "No, I'm at the next level. This failure means I'm at the next level." It's optimizing your thoughts too, a lot of it.
Tana Amen: It's a mindset.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I love that. It actually reminds me last night we had three of our five grandchildren over swimming.
Tana Amen: Oh my god, they're so cute.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Haven is now a year old and so cute but so busy-
Tana Amen: So busy.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... That watching her walk-
Tana Amen: She looks drunk.
Dr. Daniel Amen: ... and she looks drunk and then falls. She falls on her butt a lot, but it doesn't bother her to fall.
Tana Amen: No, she laughs.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Then she just gets up and keeps going. You have to have your eyes on her all the time.
Tana Amen: Maybe because she feels drunk, she just laughs.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Falling is a part of learning, so that's what you're learning. Whenever people go, "Oh, I should be better. I'm no good at this," like a lot of you probably say that about learning languages, and so you don't try, therefore you're no good at it. Using Chloe's perspective that it's about levels, and if you're not doing well, you're at the next level. You're just at the bottom of the step of the next.
Chloe Amen: But I'm at the next level from where I was before, right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But you're at the next level.
Chloe Amen: Because if you're just good at it the entire time, you're probably not challenging yourself. For me, if she knows anything about me and if you know anything about me, it's I have to be challenged constantly because I'm just naturally have to be doing something all the time and be good at something.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That's because of your frontal lobes. Before we let this one get away, I want to talk about one of the most important things in the book besides getting your brain right, and that is getting your relationships right because I learned early on in school when I started doing well is that teachers or bosses are people, too. If you're rude to them, if you don't show up with your best self, they're going to lower your grade or lower your promotion. A trick I learned was I would actually before the semester started, I would read my books. I would say to myself the first month. "I'm going to be so prepared, and so kind, and so present," not being a kiss ass.
Tana Amen: You kind of were.
Dr. Daniel Amen: No, I'm just like, "I'm prepared."
Tana Amen: Right, this is not a bad thing.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because first Impressions really do matter. If they saw that I was a good student for that first month, the rest of the year they'd leave me alone. They wouldn't pick on me.
Tana Amen: So true.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But if I'd showed up unprepared, they would get that, "Oh, Daniel is unprepared."
Tana Amen: And that's it.
Dr. Daniel Amen: "He doesn't care." Getting rid of that first impression is just so hard.
Chloe Amen: Teachers, yeah, yeah.
Tana Amen: You like being teacher's pet. You've always been teacher's pet.
Chloe Amen: Yes. You know what? A long time ago-
Tana Amen: You made peace with it?
Chloe Amen: ... all through elementary school and middle school, it was like, "Oh, Chloe is teacher's pet. She's friends with all the teachers.. She has lunch with all the teachers." Okay, first of all, what's wrong with that? There's nothing wrong with that.
Tana Amen: Having lunch with teachers?
Chloe Amen: I'm going to get really off topic in a minute, but no. Yes, I was always the teacher's pet, but I think adding to what Daniel was saying, how I saw it in my head is you want to be the teacher's pet because they like you for who you are and who you want to be, who you're bringing to the table, not because you're trying to be who they want you to be. I've noticed teachers are like this. They don't actually like the kid who it's like, "Oh, tell me everything," just tell the teacher what they want to hear, right? They liked the kid who comes in prepared and is confident in what they know and is confident and ready to learn.
Tana Amen: Well, they're participating.
Chloe Amen: And they're participating.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Prepared.
Chloe Amen: And they're ready to learn.
Dr. Daniel Amen: They are prepared.
Tana Amen: One of my professors that I had the best relationship with was the one I argued with the most, but it's because I was prepared. He loved me because-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Is that why you're with me all the time?
Chloe Amen: Not only that, you're confident.
Tana Amen: Yeah, because I'm confident.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because I'm the teacher?
Tana Amen: The goal of the teacher, the teacher's job is to teach kids how to have their own thoughts and teach kids how to do well in the world. In order to do well in the world, you need to use your own mind. Just what I've learned is that if you can show them that you're confident in what you say without being-
Chloe Amen: ... combative, that like that. They like that you're willing to stand up for what you-
Tana Amen: Right. I wouldn't be rude, but I was adamant he had to change one of the questions on our tests because it was wrong, and I had my notes.
Dr. Daniel Amen: When we come back, we're going to talk about nutrition and learning. It's so important.
Tana Amen: So important.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you want to be entered into the raffle for a free copy signed of Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades, go to, leave us a comment, and in the subject line put Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades raffle. Also, leave us a question.
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