Creativity & Innovation

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Mind Map
A mind map or mindmap is a generic term used to describe a pictorial representation of a semantic network or cognitive map. The form of the map can involve colour or monochrome images, words, and lines, and can be arranged intuitively according to the spatial arrangement of concepts in the mind, or be organized into groupings, branches, or areas.

The mind map has been used for centuries, for learning, brainstorming, memory, visual thinking, and problem solving by educators, engineers, psychologists and people in general. Some of the earliest examples of the mind map were developed by Porphyry, a noted thinker of the 3rd century as he graphically visualised the concept categories of Aristotle. Ramon Llull also used these structures of the mind map form. More recently the semantic network was developed as a theory to understand human learning, and developed into mind maps by the rennaisance man Dr Allan Collins, and the noted researcher M. Ross Quillian during the early 1960s. As such, due to his commitment and published research, and his work with learning, creativity, and graphical thinking, Dr Allan Collins can be considered the father of the modern mind map.

The mind map continues to be used in various semantic network forms, and for various applications including computer learning, learning and education, and in engineering diagraming.

A mind map is a multicoloured and image centered radial diagram that represents semantic or other connections between portions of learned material. For example, it can graphically illustrate the structure of government institutions in a state. Once a mind map is well-structured and well-established, it can be subject to review (e.g. with spaced repetition). The uniform graphic formulation of the semantic structure of knowledge may help reconsolidation of memories and it is sometimes advertised as a way of increasing motivation to work on a task.


People have been using image centred radial graphic organizers referred to variably as mental or generic mind maps for centuries in areas such as engineering, psychology, and education, although the claim to the origin of the mind map has been made by a British popular psychology author, Tony Buzan. He claimed the idea was inspired by the general semantics of science fiction novels, such as those of A. E. van Vogt and L. Ron Hubbard. He argues that 'traditional' articles rely on the reader to scan left to right and top to bottom, whilst what actually happens is that the brain will scan the entire page in a non-linear fashion. He also uses popular assumptions about the cerebral hemispheres in order to promote the exclusive use of mind mapping over other forms of note making.

The use of the term "Mind Maps" is trade-marked by The Buzan Organisation, Ltd. in the UK and the USA, though the trade-mark does not appear in the records of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

The structure of a mind map has a similar but simplified radial structure compared to that of the earlier original concept map, which was developed by learning experts in the 1960s.

Uses of Mind Maps

Mind map has many applications in personal, family, educational, and business situations, including note-taking, a modified variant of brainstorming (ideas are judged and put into an organized structure as opposed to the classical brainstorming where judgement is reserved for later stages), summarizing, revising and general clarifying of thoughts. For example, one could listen to a lecture and take down notes using mind maps for the most important points or keywords. One can also use mind maps as a mnemonic technique or to sort out a complicated idea. Mind maps are also promoted as a way to collaborate in colour pen creativity sessions. Some of the literature around mind-mapping has made claims that one can find the perfect lover, combat bullying, persuade clients, develop intuitive powers, create global harmony, and tap the deeper levels of consciousness by using mind map techniques.

Software and technique research have concluded that managers and students find the techniques of mind mapping to be useful, being better able to retain information and ideas than by using traditional 'linear' note taking methods.

Mindmaps can be drawn by hand, either as 'rough notes', for example, during a lecture or meeting, or can be more sophisticated in quality. Examples of both are illustrated. There are also a number of software packages available for producing mind maps.

Mind map guidelines

These are the foundation structures of a Mind Map, although these are open to free interpretation by the individual:

Start in the centre with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colours.
Use images, symbols, codes and dimensions throughout your Mind Map.
Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
Each word/image must be alone and sitting on its own line.
The lines must be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and flowing, becoming thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
Make the lines the same length as the word/image.
Use colours – your own code – throughout the Mind Map.
Develop your own personal style of Mind Mapping.
Use emphasis and show associations in your Mind Map.
Keep the Mind Map clear by using Radiant hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.

Scholarly research on mind maps

Buzan (1991) claims that the mind map is a vastly superior note taking method because it does not lead to the alleged "semi-hypnotic trance" state induced by the other note forms. Buzan also claims that the mind map utilizes the full range of left and right human cortical skills, balances the brain, taps into the 99% of your unused mental potential, and taps into your intuition (which he calls "superlogic"). There has been research conducted on the technique which suggests that such claims may actually be marketing hype based on urban myths about the brain and the cerebral hemispheres.

There are benefits to be gained by applying a wide range of graphic organizers, and it follows that the mind map specifically, is limited to only a few learning tasks. Research by Farrand, Hussain, and Hennessy (2002) found that the mind map technique had a limited but significant impact on recall only, in undergraduate students (a 10% increase over baseline for a 600-word text only) as compared to preferred study methods (a −6% increase over baseline). This improvement was only robust after a week for those in the mind map group, and there was a significant decrease in motivation compared to the subjects' preferred methods of note taking. They suggested that learners preferred to use other methods because using a mind map was an unfamiliar technique, and its status as a "memory enhancing" technique engendered reluctance to apply it. Pressley, VanEtten, Yokoi, Freebern, and VanMeter (1998) found that learners tended to learn far better by focusing on the content of learning material rather than worrying over any one particular form of note-making.

Selected Links About Mind Mapping

Buzan Centres - Mind Mapping -
A Mind Map® is a powerful graphic technique which provides a universal key to unlock the potential of the brain. Developed by Tony Buzan in the late 1960's ... Buzan is both determined and passionate in pursuing its goal - to change the way the world learns - for the better! We are equipping education institutions, families and businesses with the tools, techniques and strategies they need to expand their mind and positively make a difference in the world of learning.

Mind Maps [pdf]
Mind Maps, Basic Introduction. ... Mind maps were developed in the late 60s by Tony Buzan as a way of helping students make notes that used only key words and images. They are much quicker to make, and because of their visual quality much easier to remember and review. The non-linear nature of mind maps makes it easy to link and cross-reference different elements of the map. Peter Russell joined with Tony Buzan in the mid-70s and together they taught mind-mapping skills in a variety of international corporations and educational institutions.

The origins of Mind Mapping
Mind Mapping is a creative way of recording ideas that was popularised by the author and psychologist Tony Buzan in the early 1970s. Buzan pointed out that the normal linear methods of taking notes and recording ideas do not make efficient use of the brain’s powers. The Mind Map is a method of recording information or ideas in a dynamic way that mirrors the brain’s processes.

Basic principles of the Mind Map
The Mind Map has four essential charatectistics...
To aid the process of memory and recall, a Mind Map makes use of...
Advantages of using Mind Maps to record information and ideas...
Applying Mind Maps to career planning and job hunting...
Mind Maps can be used to do the following...
Finding out more about Mind Mapping...

The Mind Map Book [ppt presentation]
A central image should form the basis of your Mind Map. ...Brainstorming is a way of finding simple associations between things. However, brainstorming exercises are different from Mind Maps in that they are often two-dimensional and monotone.

Mind Mapping [ppt presentation]
Mind Mapping. Outline. What is mind mapping? Mind mapping software ... Lightweight mind mapping. Maps are represented as trees. Features ...