This page focuses on an advanced memory technique that is called Mind Mapping. We will examine how the human mind process information and how we can use this powerful technique to improve our learning capability. Note that this is a theoretical page. If you want to see some practical examples of this technique click here.
The method we are going to discuss here was invented by Tony Buzan, a positive personality in the research of the human mind. Tony Buzan has written over 80 books related to “increase your mind power” techniques. One of the most revolutionary was mind mapping that we are going to see afterward.
How the human brain process the words
It was believed for many years that the human mind was operating in a linear way. The primary communication methods, such as the speech and the press, present information linearly. The established view that the human mind learns linearly was due to this fact. Besides, the educational system was constructed based on this principle.
When we talk with someone, we listen and we say one word at a time. It was assumed that the speech is a linear process. The written text seemed to be even more linear that the speech. All the written information was presented sequentially, so the individual had to read in a particular order to understand the meanings.
Because of these assumptions, the accepted way of learning is still linear. You may have noticed that when you had to keep notes of a lecture, you were creating lists of keywords or even whole sentences. This style of keeping notes is the commonest way.
But recent evidence has proved that the human mind has a multi-dimensional nature, pointing out that there must be a mistake in the above assumptions for the linear way of learning.
It is reasonable that communication travels linearly from a person to another, but what happens inside their minds when they send and receive information? Every brain is different, and the incoming information triggers various processes. All these processes depend on the organism’s nature.
When we talk with another person, we pronounce the words in a particular order that is like a line. But inside our brains, there is a very complex process of checking, discarding and selecting hundreds of words and expressions. Whole networks of words and ideas mix and interconnect to send a meaningful and clear message to our listener.
Similarly, the listener does not observe just a list of words nor his brain creates a list. He receives every word as a part of a phrase that has a meaning, triggering a response. This same word in another sentence may have a whole different meaning so it may trigger an entirely different response.
Also, the same word has a different impact on different persons. Their experiences dictate their response to this word. This fact must also be the reason that some people may react negatively to words you say to them, even if there is no such intention on your side.
The human mind receives multi-directional information. If you think about it, in your everyday life you receive information in a nonlinear way. A photo is a typical example. There is no start or end in a photo neither in a diagram nor in the environment that surrounds you.
Recent research of biochemistry, physiology and psychology prove that the human mind not only is not linear but it is, even more, complex and multi-dimensional.
The concept of Mind Mapping
Instead of reading from top to bottom as we do with a list, it is preferable to start from the center, where the main concept is, and move towards the edges creating branches that connect with other ideas. A mind map offers significant advantages over the traditional linear way of taking notes. Some of them are listed below:
o The concepts that are closer to the center are those who are more important. Thus, it is immediately clear which concepts have a higher gravity.
o The central idea that is always at the center of the diagram is clearer than the rest.
o The connections between the concepts are directly identifiable.
o Repetition and retrieval will be faster and more efficient.
o The nature of the map allows adding new information easily.
o Every mindmap is unique. Uniqueness helps with retrieval.
So how can you create a mind map? Just follow the rules and open your mind.
Mind Mapping Rules
Focus on the following rules to create a mind map.
1. Start with a colored picture or a drawing in the center of the paper. This will be the central idea. Images or drawings enhance creativity and help with memory. Use them wherever is possible.
2. Use pictures or draws wherever is possible throughout the whole map, not only for the central concept.
3. The words must be in capitals. Capital letters are clearer and help future readings and repetitions as well as retrieval.
4. All the connections must be drawn as lines. Over them, you write down the keywords of the rule (3). All the lines should connect with other lines. This will establish the basic form of your map.
5. It is preferable to write a single word per line and not whole sentences. Following this rule makes the mind map more flexible as you take notes.
6. Use colors. Colors enhance memory and please the eyes. As a result, they stimulate the brain better.
7. Free your mind. Mind mapping is a creative process. Any thought like where to place the concepts or which of them to connect will only slow down the technique. Creating a mind map is a brainstorming process around the main concept. You have to write down as many ideas as possible, don’t stop. If something distracts you, concentrate again and continue from where you stopped.
You can check here some examples of mind maps. I have used mind mapping technique as described here to create three mind maps based on the content of this site.
“Use Your Head” by Tony Buzan