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A hand-drawn mind map
A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, and decision making.
It is an image-centered diagram that represents semantic or other connections between portions of information. By presenting these connections in a radial, non-linear graphical manner, it encourages a brainstorming approach to any given organizational task, eliminating the hurdle of initially establishing an intrinsically appropriate or relevant conceptual framework to work within.
The elements are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts and they are organized into groupings, branches, or areas. The uniform graphic formulation of the semantic structure of information on the method of gathering knowledge, may aid recall of existing memories.
Mind maps (or similar concepts) have 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 mind maps were developed by Porphyry of Tyros, 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.
People have been using image-centered radial graphic organization techniques 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 Alfred Korzybski‘s general semantics as popularized in science fiction novels, such as those of Robert A. Heinlein and A. E. van Vogt. He argues that ‘traditional’ outlines 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.
More recently the semantic network was developed as a theory to understand human learning, and developed into mind maps by 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 forms, and for various applications including learning and education (where it is often taught as ‘Webs’ or ‘Webbing’), planning and in engineering diagramming.
When compared with the earlier original concept map (which was developed by learning experts in the 1960s) the structure of a mind map is a similar, but simplified, radial by having one central key word.
 Uses of mind maps
Rough mindmap notes taken during a course session
Mind maps have many applications in personal, family, educational, and business situations, including notetaking, brainstorming (wherein ideas are inserted into the map radially around the center node, without the implicit prioritization that comes from hierarchy or sequential arrangements, and wherein grouping and organizing 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 (see below).
 Mind map guidelines
Mind map of mind map guidelines
Tony Buzan suggests using the following foundation structures for Mind Mapping:
- 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 â€“ your own code â€“ 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 radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches .
An idea map is similar to a mind map but does not adhere to the above guidelines. Rules are constantly broken based on the purpose and application of the map.
 Scholarly research on mind maps
Buzan  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. He also claims that the mind map utilizes the full range of left and right human cortical skills, balances the brain, taps into the alleged 99% of your unused mental potential, as well as intuition (which he calls “superlogic”). However, scholarly research suggests that such claims may actually be marketing hype based on misconceptions about the brain and the cerebral hemispheres. Hemispheric specialization theory has been identified as pseudoscientific when applied to mind mapping .
There are benefits to be gained by applying a wide range of graphic organizers, and it follows that the mind map, specifically, is not equally suited to all learning tasks.
Scholarly 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 âˆ’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 taking .
These tools can be used effectively to organise large amounts of information, combining spatial organisation, dynamic hierarchical structuring and node folding.
- List of Mind Mapping software
- A very complete list of mind mapping software: http://www.mind-mapping.org/
 Mind mapping in contrast with concept mapping
The mind map can be contrasted with the similar idea of concept mapping. The former is based on radial hierarchies and tree structures, whereas concept maps are based on connections between concepts. Concept maps also encourage one to label the connections one makes between nodes, while mind maps are based on separated focused topics; both of them have been found to enhance meaningful learning while enabling the potential as a true cognitive, intuitive, spatial and metaphorical mapping.
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 .
 See also
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
- Topic map
- Idea map
- Ishikawa diagram
- Concept mapping
- Cognitive map
- Argument map
- Semantic web
- Semantic similarity
- Pattern language
- Educational technology
- List of Mind Mapping software
- ^ Buzan, T. (1991). The Mind Map Book . New York: Penguin. Chapter “Mind Mapping Guidelines”
- ^ Buzan, T. (1991). The Mind Map Book . New York: Penguin
- ^ Williams (2000) The encyclopedia of pseudoscience. Facts on file
- ^ Farrand P, Hussain F, Hennessy E. Med Educ. (2002) “The efficacy of the ‘mind map’ study technique”. May;36(5):426-31. EBSCOHost. Retrieved May 5th, 2005
- ^ Pressley, M., VanEtten, S., Yokoi, L., Freebern, G., & VanMeter, P. (1998). “The metacognition of college studentship: A grounded theory approach”. In: D. J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A. C. Graesser (Eds.), Metacognition in Theory and Practice (pp. 347-367). Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum
- Novak, J. D. (1993). How do we learn our lesson?Â : Taking students through the process. The Science Teacher, 60(3), 50-55.
- Novak A ,Hermann W., Bovo V (2005) Mapas Mentais: Enriquecendo InteligÃªncias– Manual de Aprendizagem e Desenvolvimento de InteligÃªncias”; ( p XI 27, 331). Ed IDPH
- Nast, J. (2006). Idea Mapping. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons
 External links
- Basic introduction to mindmapping
- “How to make a mind map in 8 steps”
- A midwife explains how to use a mind map
- World Wide Brain Club – group for discussion of Mind Mapping and mnemonics
- Mind Map Options – selected mind map links
-  – An open source Collective mindmapper. Great, and free in most uses.
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