Mind maps and Mnemonics

Mind maps
The premise of the mind map is that information is not always easily organised in a linear fashion. Mind maps capitalise on the way our brains work by allowing information to be collected and then reviewed in a creative way.

Essentially, mind mapping is a method of creating notes on a subject in a two – dimensional structure. It is useful for visualising a topic, breaking down/identifying its component parts and then analysing and problem solving. Instead of listing information in a traditional way, a mind map shows information in a format which for some, is easier to remember.

Let us take a look at an example of a very simple mind map.

Here is how the psychologist Tony Buzan of the Buzan Organisation suggests creating a mind map:

  • Start in the centre with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colours
  • Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout
  • 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
  • Develop your own personal style of mapping
  • Use emphasis and show associations
  • Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches

As well as being constructive for summarising and consolidating information, mind maps are an excellent memory aid as they are quick to access. You can use them to construct your notes and for review purposes and also, when reciting learned information on paper later on.

Mind mapping takes a bit of practice and there are no hard and fast rules as to exactly how you should do it. If you are a naturally linear person, you might not find a mind map particularly useful as a memory aid and may prefer to stick with traditional lists and bullet points.

These are techniques for remembering information that is otherwise quite difficult to recall and use poems, phrases and acronyms.

Examples include the colours of the rainbow acronym (Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain) and the ’30 days hath September’ rhyme for remembering the number of days in each calendar month.

The idea behind using mnemonics is “encoding”. Encoding is a method of attributing information with a visual or perhaps auditory image.