A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to attend a talk by John Medina on his research all about how our brains work. More specifically, he talked about what we could accomplish if the people in his department (brain research) and the education department (he was from the University of Washington and while the two departments are basically right next door) worked together.
I was fascinated by his ideas!
For example, the human brain works the best when we are moving. Exercise (even a fast walk) reduces stress and gets blood pumping in the body - even to the brain. There have been so many times when I have gotten on the treadmill with a seemingly overwhelming problem and by the time I get off, I have a solution.
Medina suggests that students may do best (of course no research has been done, so it is just a theory at this point) in a school with physical activity between every class. Kids and teachers would come to school in work out clothes. I, personally, would love this :).
There are several studies that support the idea that we acquire new information best while our bodies are cooling down from exercise.
Some schools have already put this idea into practice. Read about a school in Georgia's success here.
Another big idea Medina discussed was how our brains store information. It turns out you need to hear something repeated 20 seconds after hearing it for the first time to start efficiently storing the information. You then need to hear it again several hours later. It sounds a little confusing, but the idea here is repetition. This is one thing I always try to incorporate into my classes - it makes me sound like a broken record, but it is speaking to my students' brains (hopefully).
For more information on John Medina and his book, Brain Rules you can visit his website http://brainrules.net/.