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Mind mapping – what is it and what does it consist in?

The Mind Mapping technique is a method created and popularised by a British scientist, Tony Buzan, in 1972. This system has been worked out on the basis of the achievements of sciences such as psychology and neurobiology, which are currently the basis of the advanced methods of learning. Mind mapping is a method of information recording, which consists in creating diagrams, so called maps of mind, maps of ideas. The basic concept, main issue, drawing is always placed in the central point of the scheme. It branches off to more detailed concepts. Mind maps can be enriched in pictures, own codes, colours, so that they are as much interesting, exciting, original as possible to us, and therefore, easier to remember.

Mind mapping technique reflects the natural mind processes. Our brain does not act linear, but multidirectionally. It means that every piece of information which gets through to the brain, creates a network of associations, and these cause the following associations, and these the other ones – a complex network of connections between all of them is created. Advanced methods of teaching are based just on this assumption.

In the traditional methods of learning and teaching, information is often passed on one after another and that way recorded by the listeners. It is hard to create in our minds a structure and network of associations on the basis of such notes. Passing on knowledge in a non-linear way and taking notes helps to express issues as a network of associations, that is, a mind map.

The main assumption of mind mapping method consists in increasing the effectiveness of learning by simultaneous stimulating both cerebral hemispheres to work: the right one – connected with creative skills, and the left one – responsible for logical and analytical thinking.

Our brain and learning

Brain has two co-working cerebral hemispheres:

  • right – responsible for ‘creative’ actions,
  • left – responsible for ‘learning’ actions.

Right cerebral hemisphere


Left cerebral hemisphere



Perception of colours

Perception of sizes

Awareness of space

General picture



Logical and analytical thinking







Applying mind maps refers to using full capacity of our cerebral spheres. When we take notes in a traditional way, that is a linear way, only the left hemisphere is active, which is responsible for logical and analytical functions as well as for linearity. In order to strengthen the memorization process, we should stimulate the right hemisphere, which handles functions such as: imagination, spatial perception, creativity and creation. The mind mapping method is to stimulate both hemispheres co-operation. The method is favourable to creative, multidirectional (non-linear) thinking. Using mind maps in the process of learning activates work of both hemispheres simultaneously. It is a beginning of multidirectional thinking, when the applied key words start off the mechanism of fast analysis or knowledge synthesis.

Creating mind maps – basic rules

  1. Take a blank, plain sheet of paper. The best format is A4 or larger.

Lines limit the natural idea flow. Using a plain sheet of paper we have full freedom of developing its whole area, 360°.

  1. Place the sheet of paper horizontally.

This arrangement gives us more space for words which we write down. We have more space to the margin of the sheet of paper.

  1. Start from the middle, the central point of the sheet. This reflects creation of the idea. In the centre place an idea, drawing or word, which represents the subject you have on your mind/you write about. Use at least 3 colours. Let the map, which you create, take its own shape.

Picture is worth more than words – encourages to creative thinking, brings new associations, makes memorising easier. Lets us concentrate on our ideas, is amusing, pleasurable. Colours as well as pictures please eyes, stimulate memory and right cerebral hemisphere. Shape and form, typical of every map, make us to memorise easier as well as to have greater pleasure of doing our job. Every forced form, framework causes monotony, separates the connections we have established.

  1. The main subjects around the central picture have to be like headings of the chapters. Be careful, over the branches we put down only the single key words. Words should be placed along and over the lines.

In order to emphasize the words – headings, we can use, e.g. capital letters or draw a larger, sharper drawing. This causes reading and seeing the main issues easier.


  1. We add branches beginning from the middle of the map. The central lines should be sharper, I would be even better, if they had organic shape (if they reminded tree branches or arms connected with the trunk).

The further from the centre, the thinner the lines should be. This defines the hierarchy and degree of the importance of the idea. It is also good, if the length of the word equals the length of the line. Connections between the lines indicate the fact that every idea comes from the previous and gives birth to the new one (this shows the associative character of the process of thinking).


  1. Words or issues, which follow from headings (the main issues or branches) are the next level of the idea. At this level the linking lines are thinner, words can be smaller.

First words and drawings stimulate the associations, creation of the new ones. Note down or draw all of them. Let your mind work freely. You do not have to finish one branch of associations before you start creating the new one. Connections between the associations establish a sort of structure, picture the importance of the issues (thick lines, capital letters and sharp drawings may be helpful when reading the structure).


  1. Add new levels of information, data. Let your thoughts move freely from one idea to another. You can also add another element in your mind map – frames, clouds or three-dimensional boxes around the words, symbols – to stress their importance.


  1. Do your best to make each of mind maps you create as beautiful, artistic, colourful, multidimensional and creative as possible.

This will make the map even more attractive to your eyes and brain, and therefore easier to remember.

9.      Have fun! A little bit of humour, absurd or even exaggeration is a trump in this case – this way you maximalise the capacity of your brain as well as the pleasure of the process of creation.

Possible application

Maps can be successfully applied in all fields of life, in which speed of learning and the transparency of thinking improve the achieved results. Maps are ideal to:

  • take lesson, lecture, books, meetings notes;
  • prepare materials, e.g. to revise for exam, speech;
  • prepare presentations;
  • search for a solution to a problem;
  • take decisions;
  • take creative actions, e.g. brainstorm, generating ideas;
  • plan activities/work;
  • carry out a self-analysis, e.g. of own strong and weak points, plans for future;
  • and many others...

Drawbacks of mind mapping

The new, non-linear method of taking notes seems to be unnatural to many. It is hard to change the traditional, deeply ingrained methods of learning and taking notes. The new method seems to be weird, time consuming and more difficult. Indeed, it may be like that at the beginning – writing down this way requires concentration and putting much effort. However, with a little bit of patience and persistence we will soon find out the advantages of mind mapping and use it skilfully. 

There are many advantages, because mind maps:

  • stimulate creative thinking;
  • make understanding, memorising and revising easier;
  • help to get focused;
  • make use of the intellectual potential, by stimulating both cerebral hemispheres;
  • put our thoughts in order, simplify the analysis. 

Marta Prokopek-Pyśk



  1. Buzan T., Mapy twoich myśli, Wydawnictwo Ravi, Łódź 1999.
  2. Jarmuż S., Witkowski T., Podręcznik trenera, Biblioteka Moderatora, Wrocław 2004.
  3. Necka E., Trening Twórczości, Polskie Towarzystwo Psychologiczne, Warszawa 1992.
  4. Paszko M., Mind Mapping,, Warszawa 2005.