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social, health, political imagery through the lens of George J Huba PhD © 2012-2019

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HITMM  2016

Click here for an index of all HITMM 2016 blog posts and links.

Starting April 18, 2016, I am uploading a series of posts collectively comprising Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping or HITMM. These are being marked with the year of publication 2016 and a number in parentheses indicating the order of the post in the series.

Note that this series of posts is an overall theory of the best practices for mind mapping in real applied fields (that is, just about everything but the itsy, bitsy teeny, weeny, fairly trivial examples used in mind mapping books and courses).

My goal has been to develop a series of guidelines that are practical for patients, caregivers, clients, general folks, professionals, healthcare providers, scientists, organizations, and yes, even butchers, bakers and possibly even attorneys.

Watch for the first five or six posts this week. I am anticipating about a dozen or more posts on this topic.

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It’s taken me a year to develop these guidelines and justifications and about 1000 mind maps written for actual applications, not toy maps like those used by others. I have also tested a lot of my ideas with various readers of my blog including people with cognitive impairment and dementia, students, health care providers, the general public, caregivers, doctors, lawyers, family members of medical patients and those with mental illness, and many other types of people among the more than 110,000 people who get direct notices of my blog posts via Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Facebook.

I believe that this is the first set of mind mapping guidelines which has ever received so much comment through the wizardry and participation opportunities in social media and world-wide opportunities to study it on a web site of 600 blog posts.

Oh, and in case you wonder, I am not a relative of P. T. Barnum. Rather, I have worked 35 years as a research psychologist-program evaluator-psychometrician, received honors from the two major psychological associations in the USA, visited more 500 clinics serving most types of behavioral and medical diseases and disorders and studied their operations, and have lived well for a number of years with dementia and used these techniques myself. I also worked for a few years on the development of several major neuropsychological diagnostic tests and know how to read peer-reviewed papers in cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and clinical neurology. And I am not going to promote outdated (often fictional) ideas attributed to psychology and neuroscience and neurology such as split brains, 90% of the brain’s work being done by 10% of the brain, or digital models of an analog brain typically found in mind mapping books.

The guidelines I am presenting are the best ones I know of to help you develop mind maps that may help you to have a more productive, happier, and maybe healthier life or help you help someone else. I am not claiming that mind maps will change your brain (no definitive research has ever been on that issue which seems quite sad given the amount of money made by those who teach $5,000 courses and have $10,000 per day consulting practices justified by implying that definitive research supports everything they sell). To be specific to my case, I do not claim mind maps can cure or prevent dementia or fix up a damaged brain. But do I think it is easier to navigate the typical or dementia-affect world in a way that is joyful with a higher quality of life than one would otherwise have been able to have without using mind maps, other visual thinking tools, or related tools. What I present are NOT brain training methods of which I am somewhat skeptical, but rather thinking tools (much as traditional arithmetic and mathematics, letter writing and the creation of literature, as well as organizing, filing, using balance and spreadsheets, and drawing charts are commonly used thinking tools).

A lot of kids grow up wanting to be football players or ballerinas or doctors or musicians or lawyers or politicians or POTUS or dog catchers or (heaven forbid) whale trainers at Sea Wiorld. When I was 10 I used to write Huba’s Theory of [Whatever I was Working On at the Time] in my school notes and doodles. I was still doing so in graduate school working on my PhD degree.

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Am I trying to sell you something? Not really. All of what I know — in the most accessible way I know how to present it while having dementia — is in the posts on this blog. Yes, I copyright the posts and images so that they will not be taken from here and taken out of the context of the larger work. And yes, I may choose to synthesize the work in books or applications. But the core information is all here, free, and will continue to be so. Please cite the work appropriately if you use or quote it.

You can read all of this for free and comment on it for 100,000+ other people to see in the comments section of every post. Love it, say so and why. Hate it, say so and why. All I ask that you do not hide behind a pseudonym or “anonymous” identity. The only comments I do not approve for the site are those that contain blatant advertising, attacks on individuals other than me, spam detected by automatic processors, malware and viruses, bigotry, and possibly offensive statements that go far beyond the usual four, five, and six letter words I use to make emphatic points.

I cannot and will not give individual psychological, health, or medical advice and nothing in this blog should be interpreted as such. Except in very rare cases, I cannot help you develop or debug any of your own work. That’s just the way it has to be in my universe of trying to get as much done as possible while undergoing cognitive decline. I’m happy with the way I am approaching all of this.

George Huba, PhD
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
April 2016

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Click here for an index of all HITMM 2016 blog posts.

HITMM  2016

[Click on all images to expand them.]

[My comments below pertain to left-to-right written languages. For right-to-left languages can you just assume you can translate my words into right-to-left? I suspect so, but only native speakers, readers, and writers of right-to-left languages will be able to answer that. I encourage their thoughts and comments.]

Buzan’s rules or guidelines (or “laws” of mind mapping) require a central element from which other ideas flow in a hierarchical way with the most important parts of ideas represented near the center. That is, there is a central idea often represented by a picture (Buzan says always this will be the case but his iMindMap program has the majority of suggested central elements as outline images in which words are written so apparently this is not a rigid requirement) and a hierarchy of sub-branches emerging from branches emerging from the central idea.This rule has two major problems.First, often the format makes for overly compressed branches and sub-branches and a lack of “white space.”Second and most important, the left side of the diagram (that is to the left of the central image — where one effectively has to write and read in a right-to-left manner the opposite of the way one normally writes and reads — makes it quite difficult for many people to write or read when the map is complete. Many try to read the left side of the diagram from left-to-right and end up with ideas that look like Yoda wrote them down. “This isn’t good” although some would think it is cool to say “Good isn’t this” with the implied acumen of Yoda.Here is a typical radial mind map with the major idea in the center and secondary and tertiary ideas radiating out from the center.The example is from a recent blog post on some advantages that mind mapping might make for persons with dementia (PWDs) or those with cognitive impairment. I wrote this in the traditional Buzan radiant style. The prior post gives a rationale for, and explanations of, the mind map.

Radial (Circular)

What happens when the radial mind map is oriented left-to-right. Here is a first sample of the re-orientation. Is this this the way you normally think when you read (left-to-right)? Most importantly, when you take into account that physicians and other healthcare providers are used to working in a left-to-right world, the left-to-right structure is more compelling when one READS a mind map.

Left

Here is a second variation on the left-to-right concept. Some may find this easier to unambiguously read.

Top

Buzan argues that all mind maps should have curved branches because those are more “interesting” to the easily bored brain. I don’t agree with Buzan on this matter because a linear format with straight branches seems to be more UNDERSTANDABLE to me for those who primarily read mind maps others have created. Here is the same mind map with a left-to-right format and straight branches.For the purposes of reading or filling out a standardized template, the left-to-right linear map may be clearer to the cognitive challenged or to those who handle large amounts of conceptual data daily and cannot afford to make errors (healthcare providers).

Left Linear

How do I reconcile the differences and strengths among these four formats.

  1. I believe that it is easier to WRITE or BRAINSTORM or CREATE in the radiant format. The radiant design has the advantage of clearly indicating the most important parts of the idea or information. Important information appears in the center and branches and sub-branches gradually emerge.
  2. But for reading or processing formation from one person to another or filling a pre-designed form, the left-to-right linear format may be the best or at least the easiest format for people to quickly and accurately transmit information. And the linear left-to-right format is a natural for healthcare where information is transmitted hundreds of times through both individual hands and scanned documents that may also be computer interpreted or reformatted for databases. And the left-to-right format with linear branches is probably the easiest to understand by a person with cognitive impairment or unfamiliarity with the radial format of rigidly Buzan-style maps.

If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I have thousands of mind maps lying around that were created with a traditional radial format. How long does it take me to convert a radial mind map into a left-to-right oriented one? TEN MINUTES in the program iMindMap created by Chris Griffiths in tandem with Tony Buzan. Conversion is a semi-automated process that requires some judgment about the final arrangement of the branches. But if a person who WRITES or CREATES the radial mind map and then converts it to a left-to-right format to COMMUNICATE to patients and doctors and nurses and more doctors and then the patient again, that little extra knowledge about mind map USERS is readily available.

To summarize, I find it easiest to create (write) new content in the radial format but strongly suspect that most users will find it easier to read that content in one of the left-to-right formats.

But, remember that I am working in the field of healthcare. And, I believe that mind mapping can help me live better with several medical conditions I have.

My solution will be to present two alternately formatted mind maps on this blog and in explanatory articles and manuals.That is, for many I will include both a radial mind map for further brainstorming and editing and rewriting and a left-to-right linear or almost-linear map for readers and others who find the traditional reading orientation best.Some readers will find the radial format most valuable. Some readers will find the left-to-right format more useful. In general, the choice of radial versus left-to-right is one that rests on the content of the map, the intended audience, the overall system in which the information is being used, and an understanding of the typical cognitive functioning and training of the intended audience.And it does not hurt to present the information in both formats so that everyone is covered and also becomes familiar with both formats.Does current neuroscience prefer one of these formats over the other? I do not find any compelling research (when I find any research at all) that shows radial diagrams are superior to left-to-right ones. Such evidence did not exist in the 1970s and it does not seem to exist now, although research will continue and we will need to adjust our conclusions as more “definitive” findings are produced with better equipment, better research designs, and better data.

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