Mind mapping

How we learn

We constantly strive to seek new ways to improve the way our brain gathers and retains information. Each person perceives information differently, and whether we are consciously aware of it or not, our brains soak up the knowledge we attain more efficiently through various techniques.  A practice for retaining the information we are taught is through a process called mind mapping. Mind mapping can help you as a student retain more information, improving your ability to understand your course and revise for your exams.

The history of mind mapping

Where did it all begin?

Mind Mapping is a technique that is traced all the way back to Poephry, a Neo-Platonist thinker from the third century, although the idea in its full practice did not catch on until the 1960s when British psychologist, Tony Buzan began incorporating this technique as a routine practice with his patients.

What Mind Mapping is

Mind mapping is a very basic form of association for graphing ideas and concepts so that they remain in mind for as long as they learned. In a sense, it is like physically mapping out a course of visual landmarks that you recognize and associate with the material you have learned, so that the two are inexplicably linked to one another.

Uses for Mind Mapping

How it can benefit you as a student

The practice of mind mapping encases much more than the ability to strengthen memory recall. Some of the other areas are:

  • Creative/brainstorming sessions
  • Problem solving
  • Providing a method for unknotting complex issues in various subjects
  • Study and research practices
  • Researching and presenting information

All of these are invaluable techniques to help you as a student get the most out of your course.  As you can see, this learning tool increases the attributes that many of us find to be elusive at times when it comes to learning. Mind mapping helps one to focus, and enhances the way we organize and communicate with one another to achieve the level of direction and creativity our brains are capable of.

Applying the technique

Or, “How to mind map…”

Since you now know more about how mind mapping works to improve overall memory function, this is the part where you actually get to practice what you have thus far absorbed.

In the brain there is a central image that pairs with whatever subject needs the most attention. Similarly, the main branches are those that stem from the central image and posses information that is the same in topic. The job of the main branches is to return a more enhanced version of ideas that are similar to the original central image.

Further branching will take place from the main branches that will provide minor topics to the central image to complete the linkage.

When all branches are united, a nodal structure is formed, and the result is that you have actually used each branch of that portion of your brain to properly store the information you have learned. Yet, in order to wash away any doubt that might still be lingering, how about a practice run?

The practice run

Your first go at mind mapping


  • First, take up a blank sheet of paper either physical or as a notebook entry on your PC whichever is easier for you.
  • Set the paper or screen horizontally and begin writing in the main topic within the paper’s centere.
  • Then write down the main branch subtopics that will coincide with the central idea.
  • Continue to add these subtopics to create further branching as needed.
  • You may also want to incorporate colour, symbols, or drawings to further illustrate your ideas, as different colours would stand for the various level of detail for each topic, and decrease the confusion of one topic to another, or a main branch topic from its central image.
  • Decrease the number of words on your mind map and use pictures instead to show examples of your idea. This practice will lessen the stress on your brain for trying to remember so many words.
  • Also, experiment with different sizes of text and alignment between the main and sub branch topics. The more varied your paper of topics is, the easier it is for your mind to keep hold of the information on it.


After thoughts

Or, “What just happened…?”

The purpose of the exercise is strengthen and broaden what is seen to aid the brain in its memory process on a more efficient level. A collection of various shapes, sizes, colours, and text is more entertaining to the brain, and therefore makes the information easier to retain.

What it all boils down to is the old school theory that if learning is made fun, then more people are going to want to make these practices a part of their study habits as well.