Mind Maps Inventor: "We Think Like Exploding Stars"

"What is a mind map" video by Tony Buzan

Tony Buzan created the first mind map in 1974. In his interview for a Dubai newspaper, he explains:

"In school I was a good note taker. I could write 15 words on a line, 600 words on a page, in good handwriting. In university things became more difficult. So I took more notes, but the more notes I took the more I began to drown.

I realized that key words were the essence, the nuggets, and the rest was nothing, a waste of energy.

'A picture is worth 1000 words' - because we remember with images, not with words. I added codes and curved lines, because curved lines are more attractive to the brain. So the Mind Map became: key words, colours, images, connections and locating them in their right place.

The way the brain fundamentally thinks is radiant, meaning that it thinks primarily from image centres, and then radiates out. We think like exploding stars. The brain's thinking processes, especially memory, creativity and understanding are based on networks of information. When you say 'mango', the brain sees the picture of the mango, imagines the taste, the colour. So, from that central picture mango, you have the radiant branches, taste, colour, tropics, your favourite mango, mango cakes, mango pudding, mango drink, regions where mangos are grown… all radiating off, with rich sensory details."

While I don't agree that curved links are better than straight lines in mind maps, Tony Buzan's work definitely deserves attention.

I have used mind maps extensively during my preparation for USMLE and ABIM, and this probably contributed to my relative success on those examinations -- I consistently scored better than the 95th percentile on USMLE and ABIM in-service exams. Even more importantly, mind maps make studying more fun.

We have a dedicated section for mind maps at AllergyCases.org: Mind Map Diagrams in Allergy and Immunology. A few examples are shown below:

Differential diagnosis of cough, a simple mnemonic is GREAT BAD CAT TOM. Click here to enlarge the image: (GERD (reflux), Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR), Rhinitis (both allergic and non-allergic) with post-nasal drip (upper airway cough syndrome), Embolism, e.g. PE in adults, Asthma, TB (tuberculosis), Bronchitis, pneumonia, pertussis, Aspiration, e.g foreign body in children, Drugs, e.g. ACE inhibitor, CF in children, Cardiogenic, e.g. mitral stenosis in adults, Achalasia in adults, Thyroid enlargement, e.g. goiter, "Thoughts" (psychogenic), Other causes, Malignancy, e.g. lung cancer in adults).

Mind map diagram of exercise-induced asthma

Classification of ocular allergy

Eosinophilic Esophagitis, a mind map diagram

The mind maps above were made with Bubbl.us which is currently one of the best web-based tools for mind map creation. It is free and allows seamless import/export and interoperability with other mind mapping software.


‘We think like exploding stars.’ Vijay Dandige. Khaleej Times Online.
Video: What is a mind map?
Mind Maps in Allergy and Immunology. AllergyCases.org.
How to Use Bubble.us to Make 2008 Your Most Productive Year Ever. LifeHack.org, 01/2008.
Unconventional Medical Textbooks: Mind Maps and Visual Mnemonics

Related reading:

Can images (mind maps, infographics) stop data overload? Symptom of the computer age: overwhelmed, we delay decisions http://goo.gl/URMKm
Five Best Mind Mapping Applications. Lifehacker, 2009.
Medical Mind Maps by the Wikipedia user Madhero88, a 3rd year Medical Student from Jordan.
ICU Mind Maps http://bit.ly/1VIVOi and http://bit.ly/2EnZLi
Medical profession's use of mind mapping - WikIT http://goo.gl/1Kjd
Note taking with mind maps did not improve the scores of medical students (study)http://goo.gl/8qeQ
Study claims mind maps don't help learning - "you should just take tests" - NYTimeshttp://goo.gl/kvdSZ and http://goo.gl/6ql7n

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