social, health, political imagery through the lens of George J Huba PhD © 2012-2017

Search results for mind map

Lighten is a new app for the iPhone and iPad. This is a very simple program to use, very fast, AND fits well in the smallest iPhone screen. Lighten is a simplified version of the XMIND program for the PC and Mac that has been stripped of unneeded commands so that it works extremely well on the handheld devices.

The universal version for both iPhone and iPad currently costs $2.99.

If you read my blog and wonder how to get started in mind mapping, this is a very good starting point. Simple to use, easy to understand, very well designed mind maps that are easy to read.



The title of this post is the #1 question (comment) I receive on Twitter when I make a post about content on this site.

The answer to the question is a guarded yes. Most (in excess of 85%) cover basic issues in caregiving, healthcare, patient management, note-taking, self description, cognitive issues, case management, family management, and resources within the healthcare system. Some is specific to dementia (mind maps on types, treatments, research, experiences of those with dementia).

My expertise, research and personal interests, and personal theories derive from within the context of dementia in terms of my professional interests, experience as a caregiver for my mother and grandfather, research, test development and personal experiences. So I always present my ideas targeted toward persons living with dementia, their caregivers and medical providers, dementia care/case managers, and those adults concerned with improving and or maintaining their own cognitive skills or preparing for cognitive decline.

There are many applications of my ideas to many chronic and acute healthcare conditions. Caregiving issues are in many cases the same, healthcare management of different conditions may be fairly similar, and nobody has enough resources to do what they actually want to do.

Where I have great reservations in applying (or extending) my ideas about cognitive skills and quality of life is in understanding and intervening in cognitive and the other medical, and mental health issues of children and adolescents. ADHD, adolescent suicide prevention, youthful problem behaviors, dyslexia, and many other conditions require very specialized professional training. Caregiving by family members and paid trained-paid caregivers often requires different skills, knowledge, and emotional supports than it may for adult patients. While many trivialize the issues and state that declining older adults are like children, such a statement makes minimizes (in a way both pathetic and potentially dangers) the very real and large differences in the care of these groups at either end of the age spectrum.

NO posts or mind models in this blog are specialized for the very real unique needs of children, adolescents, and sometimes younger adults.

Click on the image to expand.


Want information you created or curated to have the greatest impact? Then put it into a mind map. Not a mono-toned mess of straight lines at right angles but curves with colors and an organic style. A mind map utilizing rules that follow what is fairly well known about visual thinking. A mind map like the one below.

Click on the image to expand it.

Conditions Under Which the Impact of a Mind Map is Maximized

A few years ago I set out — as I have discussed in this blog many times — to “prove” that a person with dementia can use mind mapping in numerous ways to improve the quality of life.

Yes, a big “clinical trial” is the right way to make such a test. But I had no resources to run a clinical trial and even more importantly, no time and energy. And I mean time defined as “productive, predicted remaining life span.”

But I did have a willing participant with dementia (me) and a huge audience on social media. It is now about 4 1/2 years since I first posted a mind map on my blog site. The blog site now contains more than 1,000 mind maps and more than 700 posts.

Through my blog posts and their observations, usefulness to others, and my medical path, I’ve demonstrated that the technique can by used at least for one person on this planet daily and with results shown on the Internet for all to see.

No one should assume that because I believe that the method has proven effective for me that it will be effective for them. You should consult your own health care providers if you wish to try this for yourself or a person under your care.

There are many, many, many examples of the use of the methods on the blog site. What’s you excuse for not spending an hour reviewing them? My methods are useful with my dementia, but most also apply to — with a few adaptations — many other physical and mental diseases.

Click on the image below to expand it.


I doubt that there are many people expert in mind mapping who would disagree with me that iMindMap is the most feature-laden of the more than 100 programs for mind mapping to be found all over the Internet.

Once a year — as promised when the program was first introduced — iMindMap has a new release that provides many new features and usability enhancements. And unlike others, they produce a great upgrade every year on time. And free from most bugs that live in Cupertino and Redmond.

How good is iMindMap 10?

Click on the mind map (actually mind model in my terminology) below to expand its size. For those of you with no patience or dramatic sense of the big build-up, you can skip directly to the “9” branch. iMindMap is the 8,000 pound gorilla.

As a note, my review was conducted about six weeks after receiving the program and using it exclusively rather than earlier editions. I use a Mac only, and my review was conducted on a 2013 Macbook Pro. I have worked with the program both on an internal 15″ retina macbook screen and a 27″ external monitor. [I actually like using the Macbook screen better.]


Chris Griffiths and his team at OpenGenius have taken the work of Tony Buzan and in the process of developing a program expanded and formalized that conception in a creative way that is brilliant in its overall utility and ease of use. iMindMap 10 is my favorite mind mapping program, but most importantly my favorite and most useful thinking tool. For those of you who do not follow my blog in general, I live with Frontotemporal Dementia and iMindMap has served as a “brain assistance tool” for me since 2010 in daily living and in continuing my professional interests in a creative way. I can accurately say that the various versions of this program “changed my life.”

This is a tool formulated by expensive consultants who want to help corporations make more money while at the same profiting from that help. But the tool has come to greatly exceed the original vision and is intuitive to use and most adults and all children can learn to use the program for free using Internet trainings. Don’t be scared off by all of the publicity about a $3500 training and a certificate signed by a consulting firm (not an accredited educational institution). You do not need a course to learn this program and it is not clear to me that expensive courses help you learn to apply this program in the real world. If you are willing to invest a few hours you can be doing adequate mind maps; if you invest 10-20 hours you can be doing accomplished mind maps.

Get over the hype and realize that you CAN learn this program quickly on your own and even more rapidly if you study examples available without cost at many blogs including this one (, a depository of many thousands of mind maps at, and many other sites including where many training sessions are presented.

While there are four “views” in this program, the primary mind mapping module is the reason for using this program. The other three views are largely alternate ways of looking at the same information and data. While they may be “quicker” ways to collect information together from a lecture or library research, at the end they feed their data into the mind mapping module where the actual thinking work, theory building, model development, and communication is done.

I have a few criticisms of the program, but these criticisms do NOT change my overall rating of the program as A+.

  1. The time map module is really just a Gantt chart of interest to but a few mid-level corporate managers and high level executives who have not yet adopted better ways of team management. As a Gantt chart the module is fine, albeit about the same as most existing software in that area. Unless you are like a friend of mine who manages 10-year projects to send landers to Mars with 10,00 team members, I cannot imagine why you would want to use a Gantt chart.
  2. In my view and that of many other potential users, a “time map” is actually a timeline that incorporates mind map features. While others have tackled this issue (most notably Philippe Packu and Hans Buskes), my formulation was the original. The resulting blog post (click here for a new window) has been the most read one about mind mapping methods on my blog site for FOUR years. I’d urge the iMindMap developers to look at my model of time maps which requires a lot of custom work that I am sure they could easily automate.
  3. For almost all mind map users, the future is using pre-made templates designed by content experts. Purchase a template package and then you can then create your own mind maps by adding your information to the pre-designed expert map for your area whether it be healthcare or project management or writing a term paper or designing a research project or selecting the right clothes for a 5 day business trip. At this time iMindMap does not yet have a way of protecting the intellectual property of template developers which provides little incentive for developing templates as a business and therefore stunts the growth of the mind mapping community.
  4. For this program and all of its competitors, the icon and image libraries are never big enough. On the other hand, you can purchase separate icon and image sets from third-party packagers on the Internet if you have special image needs. iMindMap allows you to use such external pictorial elements extremely easily. My favorite new feature is that you can add icons to their library and size the icons in a custom way. iMindMap’s included images should more fully capture the fact that users of mind maps and their audiences are much more diverse in terms of ethnicity, race, gender, gender-orientation, education, and age than the included image libraries. And hey OpenGenius folks, how about some icons for numbers in colors besides orange and lime so that the color schemes of my mind maps are not destroyed if I number ideas.
  5. More free online trainings would be desirable, and most importantly trainings that do not run at the speed of a bullet train. Two minute presentations that cover 20 minutes of material are somewhat counter-productive. The current videos run too fast for new users and at time for even the most experienced users.
  6. My experience — admittedly infrequent — is that Technical Support is fairly “rigid” in that there are lots of forms to fill out before you get a real chat session going and too many requests to send them esoteric files on your computer. All in all, as technical support goes, while everybody is trying quite hard to be helpful, they ask you to conform more to what is convenient for them than what a confused user can deal with. When I want help or to make a suggestion or make a request for a new feature or default, I want to just compose a short email so OpenGenius can get the right person there in contact with me. I most definitely do not want to complete an overly complicated form. Too much technocracy in that process.
  7. Besides the books of Buzan which are not all that useful for learning the program or how to do real visual thinking in real world applications other than rudimentary management, OpenGenius needs to develop some easier access, very practical books that act as “manuals” and present information in more comprehensive ways than is done now. Old fashioned manuals that are (or can be) printed have a lot of appeal to many.

In summary, this is an amazing program that is much more than a program for mind mapping. It is unsurpassed among mind mapping programs. Additionally it is what I call a “visual thinking environment” or VITHEN. My “criticisms” are minor and do not in anyway diminish my overall evaluation of the quality of the program.

My blog at on which you are reading this review was designed and “written” largely in “iMindMap.” Most of the mind maps I use to guide my own “complicated” life were developed in iMindMap.

Exemplary job folks at OpenGenius. Version 10 is an additional large step in the evolution of the program and mind modeling.

I set up the Facebook group Dementia Mind Maps for those who may be interested in using mind maps to aid in dementia care, research, education, prevention, and general information.

If you would like to discuss the topic with persons with dementia, adults aging typically, healthcare professionals, decision makers, the general public, educator, mind mappers, and the curious lifelong learners, please join the group.

The group is an open one.

This is the link for joining the group.



My favorite mind mapping program for the Mac, PC, iPhone, and iPad is iMindMap. I have made no secret of that in this blog for many years.

However, I do get a lot of email after people get sticker shock looking at the iMindMap web site. For many the price is out of reach although I believe that iMindMap is expensive but very cost-effective in that you can accomplish more with it than other programs and I think the maps themselves have potentially more impact on a reader.

That being said, there are several very inexpensive alternatives that can produce quite good results. One of two current alternatives (the other is MindNode) that meets my criteria for an excellent starting-level program is MindMaple. MindMaple is available for the PC, Mac, iPhone, and iPad. MindNode is not available for the PC.

I do not see a lot of differences between MindMaple and MindNode except usability, especially for the novice, where MindMaple has a slight edge over MindNode. MindNode handles inserted images a little bit easier.

Here are some examples of some mind maps created on the iPad version of MindMaple.

Note that the maps all have the some content but the formatting changes to show possible variations. Note that the Mac version does have more formatting options than the iPad version. [I did not test the PC version.]

Both of the programs work well on the smaller screens of the iPad and iPhone.

Click on any of the images to expand it.




© 2016 g j huba phd <===> HubaMaps™



Healthcare (medical, health, mental health, nursing, and other health professions) mind models (or mind maps) are not the same as those plain old “knowledge” mind maps you are used to seeing.

When you start to put a compelling and artistically sophisticated mind map together that gives symptoms for diseases or recommended treatments or medical information ranging from how to put on a bandage to how deal with your elderly mom’s dementia, you have entered the realm where misinformation can hurt people. Most of the health and medical information mind maps on archival websites like have errors of content ranging from being out-of-date to misleading to downright harmful. It is not necessarily enough to read something even from a definitive source and mind map it. Rather, you have to identify definitive sources and then know how to evaluate their claims against more recent research and regulations and criticisms by credible sources.

Being called (by yourself or another source) a professional or expert or inventor mind mapper does not mean that you are qualified to mind map health or medical information. It takes at least 22 years of total education to get through the formal training and supervised practice to meet the requirements of most types of professional health-related licensure in the USA. Physicians and nurse practitioners may need to complete as as many as 32 years of formal education and supervised practice. All licensed healthcare professionals are subject to requirements for continuing education requirements after completing training and licensure in most US jurisdictions for most fields.

So before you decide to read a book on dementia and make one of your wonderful artistic mind maps, think about whether you have the necessary professional training and experience to read the relevant research and clinical literature accurately and with the perspective and sophisticated judgment that can reject erroneous claims. And when you start to make claims that mind mapping or some herbal supplement or yoga or cognitive training or crossword puzzles or some exotic mumblings you heard in Haiti can cure or treat or prevent dementia, make sure you realize that if you provide false information you may be hurting people and possibly incurring a financial liability. I respect and use mind maps (and especially Huba mind models) from people who clearly have expertise in healthcare, medicine, psychology, and related fields. I do find the mind maps of “professional mind mappers” and mind map “inventors” and mind map developers to be very poor in their content when they try to stray into healthcare-related content they really do not understand and do not stay in the areas of management consulting, training, and brainstorming where they made their fortunes.

This is a consumer-beware situation as no one regulates mind maps and their content.

A mind model (AKA mind map) looking at the issues that can arise because healthcare mind maps are not typically within the expertise of individuals identified as expert mind mappers who have not been trained in a health-related field.

Click on the image to expand it.

A Healthcare Mind Model (Mind Map) Must Be More Than A Regular Mind Map


I have an electronic medical record (EMR) at my healthcare system at a major university medical school.

I have decreased cognitive functioning due to neurological disease. Some days I feel depressed and low-energy in part because I have to deal with my healthcare system.

I have a ton of computer experience.

I write this blog all by myself.

I cannot get my EMR to work well for me or my healthcare system.

Something is very wrong here.

Click on the mind map/model to see what needs to be fixed and why.


Blue And White Super Girl - Two Thumbs Up



My generation is the first one to potentially have been using computers much of their adult life.

When I was 20 I learned the computer language FORTRAN a very early computation-scientific language. When I was 21 I used the big mainframe computer and printer with green and white bar paper to print my grad school application essay. Every school I applied to said that they had never seen anything like it. I got into a bunch of good ones.

When I was 22, I learned APL — the best computer language ever that very few people ever learned — and the original vi text editor from the original versions of UNIX. Vi was the first way you could use primitive word processing. Text editors like vi were around for about a decade before usable word processors.

When I was 26, I joined a lab that had the original IBM word processor that cost about $50,000 in 1977 dollars, supported 8 PhDs, and had the processing power of a 2016 basic iPhone (or less). As I recall that machine had about 16K (yup, K not MB or GB) of memory necessitating that it read and write on the progenitor of the modern (1980) floppy disk. We loved that machine which also had a primitive “smooth” printer (probably an inkjet, perhaps a primitive laserjet).

By the time I was 33, I was the Director of a group of programmers and psychologists in industry designing and writing software for educators, psychologists, managers, and healthcare to be run on the original (floppy disk operating system) IBM PC and the first widely distributed Apple IIe computers. When I started using PCs, there was only an IBM PC DOS; later through a well-written contract by Bill Gates’ dad, Microsoft was able to relabel the product MS (Microsoft DOS) thus enabling it to sell it to Compaq and other PC maker and eventually drive IBM out of the computer business in the next two decades.

By the time I was 35, I had founded a company and gotten an early generation PC and a first-generation laserjet. Later I had the first Compaq notebook computer (the size of an 8.5 x 11) sheaf of paper weighing about 10-12 lbs with a nifty blue on lighter blue screen.

Computers developed over the next 25 years and became cheaper, computer word processors and companies came and went, and by the time I retired (medical reasons) at the age of 60, many adults my age had started to use PCs or Macs (most in the late 1980s or 1990s) and had a home laser printer. Word processors were easy to use, pictures could be displayed, you could buy books and music and food and lawnmowers and computers and printers online, and most of the accumulated knowledge of the world was on your desk.

When people start to cognitively decline as part of typical aging, diseases, or injury, a high percentage already know how to order a pizza on their computer after they can no longer drive and download the most recent movies even when they no longer wish to go to movie theaters. Some can even manage to access their online medical records using arcane and stupid database systems mandated for all healthcare providers. Even I (with all of my computer experience) am often frustrated with the online Medical Information System used by the University of North Carolina medical system.

In 2016, although many wonderful things are possible, the state of computing and its integration into services for those undergoing cognitive decline is still spotty, misunderstood by case managers and healthcare professionals and caregivers, and patients are not supported with technical issues that arise.

I was personally born at about the exact perfect time to use new computer hardware and software as it was developed and evolved and was educated at schools and worked in settings that were on the cutting edge of computer technology so I would argue that my computer skills are among the most broad of my generation.

Still, there are many issues in computing and software that are becoming more difficult to understand as they develop more sophistication and I watch my brain cells die. The biggest issue, of course, is that many seniors do not have access to current computer hardware and software which is sad as such access would possibly improve the quality of their lives, make them at least a little more independent, remove some burden from unpaid caregivers, and cut costs in the healthcare system that far exceed the cost of distributing computers to the financially-challenged elderly.

The situation can be characterized as “The GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY.”

The following mind model (or advanced mind map) explains the issues. Please click the image to expand it.

Cognitive Decline and The Computer Generation 2016

Blue And White Super Girl - Two Thumbs Up

monster1 Emoticon 1 1459279956_thumb.jpeg 1459279831_thumb.jpeg




This post is part of Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping. Click here for a list of all of the blog posts that present the theory.

HITMM Button

The second most important innovation in modern mind mapping was the development of a flexible computer program that would permit a visual thinker to create models and theory and reminders and notes and all manner of visual thinking aids simple and complex.

Often categorized as a “mind mapping” program for Buzan’s guidelines for mind mapping, iMindMap has evolved into a full visual thinking environment that permits dozens of types of visual elements to be created, and on the same canvas if desired. Instead of limiting itself to its Buzan roots, iMindMap permits users to create all manner of mind maps whether fully Buzan-compliant, partially Buzan-compliant, or any other format required. It is easy to use and oh so interactive. Because of its great interactivity it permits users to create Mind Mapping 4.0 very modern information maps and displays that transcend earlier guidelines.

The most important characteristic of the program is that it encourages  users to customize mind maps endlessly and experiment with different ways of presenting the same information. It produces visual thinking output that can be very easily changes as the user wishes to use new information, a broader or narrower scope, and customization for different groups. Can you say F-L-E-X-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y boys and girls. Now, how about C-R-E-A-T-I-V-I-T-Y?

Without the presence of the iMindMap program my own theory could not have been developed which I view as the most important innovation in modern mind mapping. iMindMap permitted that most important of activities in model building, namely experimenting with different alternate models (formats).

You should use this computer program if you want to join me in studying mind map theory by mind mapping in many variations. That’s what I do.

A mind map showing why iMindMap is a terrific, super-duper, fantastic tool for model and theory building and refinement. Click to expand.

imindmap versions 4 - 9 second most important advancement in modern mind mapping

iMindMap was developed by Chris Griffiths and his team at OpenGenius. Each annual revision of the program is a work of genius.

One has to experiment as one builds models, theory, and even a simple mind mapped grocery list. This is the tool that lets you do so with ease.


This is an extremely important research article supporting processes that are presumably engaged in mind mapping and sketchnoting.

The study is too small to be accepted as “proving” or “strongly supporting” the “drawing effect,” but should it be replicated in a much larger sample, it would strongly suggest the efficacy of mind mapping, sketchnoting, and other visual thinking methods for memory recall.

If replicable, the study supports Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping. A free PDF of the study report is currently available without cost online.

Thanks to Dorlee Michaeli (@SWcareer on Twitter) for bringing the study to my attention.




This blog post is part of a series that collectively presents Huba’s Integrative Theory of Mind Mapping. An index and links to other posts may be accessed by clicking here.

HITMM Button

Tony Buzan’s work 30 years ago helped establish the method of mind mapping as an important one for visual thinking. He organized and synthesized methods used by high achievement thinkers over the centuries and his own classrooms while he was teaching and observed them.

In the 21st Century, mind mapping is turning increasingly (and correctly) to a focus on content issues in medicine, health care, education, human rights, and the broad dissemination of mind mapping techniques to peoples of all education, wealth, and geographical groups.

The following mind map shows the 21st Century issues of mind mapping within the original 20th Century achievements of Buzan and his colleagues. Click on the image to expand it.

Beyond  Buzan's  Guidelines   21st Century

This post is part of a series on Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping. Click here for an index and links to other posts in the series.

HITMM 2016

Friendly (inviting, bright, happy, funny, clear) mind maps motivate, explain, communicate, and facilitate thinking better. Think positive, write a little irreverently.

Click on the image to expand it.

Make Every Day Mind Maps for Patients (and Everyone Else) Friendly

This is one of a series of posts on Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping. To access a complete index with links to individual posts click here.

HITMM 2016


What makes a mind map effective? A few thoughts in the following mind map. Click on the image to expand it.

mind map effectiveness

Tailoring the mind map style to the content of the map, audiences, and related factors makes the mind map maximally effective. Sadly, I seem to be the only one writing about the use of tailoring of maps to users, content, and applications. It is my belief that such tailoring is the most important way to make a mind map meaningful and effective.

There is no such thing as a mind map style which is “the best” for all applications in spite of various pronouncements over the past 40 years that you must curve branches or center the map on the page and use a radial structure and have one word per branch if you want to have a “real” mind map with an optimally useful mind map. What is best is what works best for what YOU are trying to do with the map. There is no one universal formula for the best mind map in all circumstances. You should use your experience mind mapping and content knowledge to customize the style for maximum effect.

If you do not feel comfortable customizing a style, you can use Buzan’s Guidelines and achieve a good result. Following Buzan’s Guidelines almost always produces a good or very good mind map and should be your default as a starting point. Customizing can improve the map at the expense of requiring experience and some additional time. As you mind map more, you will find that you develop a fairly advanced and useful knowledge of mine map style in different applications of the technique.

After I develop my first draft of a mind map — either in a standard default style for iMindMap or a standard custom style I have developed for my own use — I systematically try changing color schemes, fonts, branch placements, images, shapes, branch formatting, and other elements of the map to see which combination seems to best fit the intended audience and the information I am using. This is NOT an aesthetic judgment; while pretty is often very good, the prettiest map may not be the most effective map if the map violates assumptions that patients or doctors or scientists or engineers or students about how information is presented, which concepts are usually discussed, and systems of color coding that are well established (and usually invariant) in various professions. For instance, red, green, and yellow are virtually universally used to mean stop, go. and caution. Hot is usually coded with red and cold with blue.

Some judgment is required to optimize mind maps. Experimentation with alternate styles and pilot testing with yourself and several others can help determine which of several alternate map files may be most effective and help you to evolve a very effective style.

This is post is part of a series of HITMM 2016 posts. For a full list of all of the posts in the series, click here.

HITMM 2016

Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping is a significant enhancement to Buzan’s Guidelines in many ways. The three largest differences are as follows.

HITMM places a heavy emphasis on tailoring the map for those using it, those developing it, the content area under consideration, and many other factors related to these large themes.

HITMM realizes that maps need not be radial. Mind maps that run from left-to-right (for left-to-right languages) may have many benefits besides the obvious one of readability by groups not familiar with mind maps.

HITMM promotes mapping with one CONCEPT per branch. The use of concepts (often described by multiple words) greatly facilitates visual thinking over the method of Buzan.

HITMM revises and expands Buzan’s Guidelines in a number of additional evolutionary ways to include current neuroscience findings and mapping technologies.

The mind map below shows major issues in HITMM mind maps in relationship to Buzan Style ones. Click the image to expand it.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For an index of all posts about HITMM 2016, click here.HITMM 2016

There are many areas in which Huba and Buzan strongly agree, especially in the coding of branches and ideas within the mind map so as to highlight the importance of the information. The next figure shows major convergences in the suggestions.

Click on the mind map to expand it.


Comparison of Huba and Buzan Suggestions for Additional Mind Map Characteristics




Huba’s Integrative Theory of Mind Modeling (Mind Mapping) is comprised of a number of posts in this blog.

The theory specifies styles (parameters) for developing the best types of mind maps (and successor mind models™) for real applications including cognitive decline, dementia, medical practices, healthcare offices, clients, patients, folks in general, physicians, nurses, other healthcare providers, family of patients, family of clients, social work and other social care professions, treatment facilities, medicine, science, experimentation, reporting, and most other applied uses.

The term MindModel™ is a new one coined by G J Huba PhD to describe the highly advanced form of mind mapping developed through the integrated theory. The MindModel is an evolution of the Buzan-style Organic MindMap into a much more useful thinking tool.

The term MindModel is first introduced in Blog Post 20 in this series to represent all of the enhancements of traditional mind maps discussed in Posts 0-19.

New posts will be added frequently. This Index will be updated as new items are added. The posts may be accessed by clicking the links below.

HITMM 2016 (0): Preface

HITMM 2016 (1): Mind Mapping 4.0/Mind Modeling

HITMM 2016 (2): Central (Radial) Organization Plus Enhancements

HITMM 2016 (3): Design and Label Mind Map Branches Using Huba’s One Concept Per Branch Rule

HITMM 2016 (4): Methods for Highlighting Information in Mind Maps

HITMM 2016 (5): Huba Style Mind Maps (Mind Models™ vs Buzan Style Mind Maps

HITMM 2016 (6): Mind Map Effectiveness

HITMM 2016 (7): Make “Every Day” Mind Maps Friendly

HITMM 2016 (8): Evidence Based and Pragmatic Guidelines for Mind Mapping

HITMM 2016 (9): How and Why Mind Mapping Works to Assist People with Cognitive Impairment or Dementia

HITMM 2016 (10): How and Why Mind Mapping Works to Assist People with Typical Cognitive Functioning

HITMM 2016 (11): Beyond Buzan’s Mind Mapping Guidelines in the 21st Century

HITMM 2016 (12): The Most Important Take Home Message from Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping/Mind Modeling™


HITMM 2016 (14): Because Cognitive Neuroscience Moves So Rapidly …

HITMM 2016 (15): Most Important Innovation in Modern Mind Mapping

HITMM 2016 (16): Fonts Show “What You are Going to Say Before You Say It”


HITMM 2016 (20) Beyond Buzan: Evolution of the Mind Map into the Mind Model™

HITMM 2016 (21): “Effective” MindModels/MindMaps Express Emotions or “Hot Cognition”

To be continued

ripped mindmaps



Click here for an index of all blog posts on Huba’s Integrated Theory of Mind Mapping.


HITMM 2016

Tony Buzan’s most controversial rule for mind mapping is to use one word per branch. People ignore it, hate it, complain about it, call such maps words I do not care to repeat here, love it, create with it, blame it, and look at other alternatives.

I find Buzan’s branches with short labels of one word to work pretty well to generate pretty pictures, and to work extremely well in mind maps being used to facilitate brainstorming. You can use this rather blind rule and obtain mind maps that work fairly well. But not as well as they could especially if you factor in the observations of many that most people find it far more confusing to read branches labelled with Buzan’s rigid format.

In the beginning of my theoretical work a couple of years ago, I thought that Buzan’s rule was the best one for labelling branches and channeling the thought process. Over the ensuing years I have come to realize that Buzan’s rule and its resultant maps are too restrictive, promote verbal rather than visual thinking, and become “stringy” especially with curved branches that most people will not understand as well as a mind map labelled with concepts (constructs, summary ideas), many of which require several words to disambiguate.

In the general case, the rule of one word per branch (OWPB) does not work very well in most applied knowledge applications. Medical diagnoses are named with more than one word explaining how they categorized or caused, Oscar-nominated films are named with labels indicating their content and setting and historical period, and complex naming rules apply to great baseball shortstops, serial killers, books, stressors, rewards, people on the street, and great vacation resorts.

If you use the Buzan rules, you are basically focusing on words as you try to find places to put single words to collectively describe some complicated idea. Buzan’s rule reinforces the idea of word dominance rather than picture-visual dominance! If you put one concept on each branch (with several words needed to describe many concepts), you are focusing more on the underlying concept (a visual datum) and not a specific word.

Huba’s rule of one concept per branch supports true visual thinking about concepts that can be pictured. It promotes integration and understanding and theory. Diagrams are better labelled with a full concept than labelled with several successive branches of individual words as Buzan would have us do.

Huba’s OCPB rule promotes full visual thinking; Buzan’s OWPB rule promotes an encyclopedic knowledge of individual words at the loss of the visually complex object. Huba’s OCPB rule promotes full visual thinking. Buzan’s OWPB rule promotes a fracturing of basic concepts into a form that does not portray the full richness of ideas and their visual nature.

Here are some more thoughts in the form of a mind map. Click on the image to expand it.


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Why does Buzan’s theory fall apart at the idea of one word per branch rather the more correct and useful representation of one concept per branch. I believe it is because Buzan’s original rules of mind mapping from the 1970s and 1980s are based upon a digital model of the brain’s data processing functions (a set of “on/off” switches or those little pixels in your computer monitor that turn off and on to represent a picture in full color) that was commonly misused from the 1950s through the 1980s, and still is even today. The brain and its workings are analog. Lots of information “clumps” together rather than being a bunch of on/off switches in various locations. Analog devices use “degrees of on” to convey information as contrasted to a discrete one/off, yes/no digital device. Also, information is blended from many different sources and brain locations to construct the information as a concept or idea or map within the brain. More precisely, the brain is a stochastic device that mixes multiple neurons firings (primarily digital inputs or sources of information into a more analog continuous form) in part by accounting for a random component of erroneous information added due to a number of conditions (including brain disease effects). Or you can call it an analog device that makes probabilistic predictions. Or you can just say that it is much more complicated than the assumptions underlying Buzan’s one word per branch rule.

In order to maximize the usefulness of mind mapping and to promote greater use for such important issues as dealing with dementia and other medical conditions, personal and professional planning, decision making, communication of visual ideas big and small, learning, theorizing, remembering, and many more, we need to maximize the usefulness of the visual thinking model underlying mind mapping and move to the concept (construct, image based) system of constructing mind maps.

The decision about how to label the ideas in a mind map (whether by labelling them with single words as Buzan requires as opposed to single ideas I call constructs or concepts) is the most important one that is made in mind mapping.

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.


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.

Geek Boy - Two Thumbs Up

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



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.


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


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.


Here are some of the roles and tasks I see for various groups when mind maps are used in medical and healthcare settings. This is intended to be a comprehensive set of individuals in a care network; it is highly probable that most patients/clients will not have all of these types of supports and partners in their care.

Click image to expand.

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My book, Mind Mapping, Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia (published in 2015) has been reduced in price to the lowest amount allowed by and Apple. While I would have made the book free for a limited time period, I have to sell, rather than distribute without cost, the book because of its size and cost of electronic distribution and the fact that the two stores require identical pricing.

The book is ONLY available in electronic formats (iBooks for Apple devices; Kindle for all devices for which there is a Kindle reader app including Apple devices). The price is identical for either version in the United States. The price should also be the same in your country unless the two stores are using different conversion rates or dealing with VAT in different ways.

To order you can click on one of the book cover icons on the left side of the pages on this site depending upon whether you would prefer to purchase the book in Kindle or iTunes format. You will be directed to the appropriate web site.

The two books are identical except for very small features required by their respective formats.

Available at the low price for a few weeks. Notice of February 5, 2016.

This book is the first in a multi-volume series. The second and third volumes will be released in the first half of 2016.

lab mouse

Note: The book is not available in China and several other countries because intellectual property rights are not respected in those markets. If you are in China and wish to obtain a copy, try to purchase it from the store in another country. Don’t blame me for the fact that your country is creating new billionaires at the fastest rate in history and has created the world’s almost biggest economy and still refuses to play fairly with the rest of the world and respect property rights and make aid donations to support basic human needs and rights in the poorer nations.

Every year when I review mind mapping programs, iMindMap draws further ahead of its competitors for the Number 1 ranking.

iMindMap 9.0 was released at the end of 2015. I used it for a month before writing this review.

The new Version 9 is an incredible piece of theoretical design for a system of applied visual thinking, a programming masterpiece, and one of the most useful applications for everyone who thinks. [On the other hand, if you are a career couch potato who wishes to take little control over your own life, you might find you money better spent on a world domination, military game for your favorite addictive device.]

iMindMap is game-changing software, and used properly can be life-changing. This year is no exception. The addition of new techniques, programming efficiencies, and usability features keep this program at the top of the pyramid not only for mind mapping, but also as a more general visual thinking environment (or as I term it, a VITHEN).

Want to think better and more accurately, understand both the big-picture and the details, plan optimally, manipulate and analyze information, enhance factual memory, and communicate more effectively? This is the best integrated tool you will find for PC, Mac, Smartphone, and tablet computers.

As a personal note, this software has helped immeasurably improve my quality of life while dealing with neurodegenerative disorder.

[The mind map below is Version 1.01: minor additions to the original and a clarification.]

Click the mind map to expand it.


Note: The version reviewed was that available for the Mac.

On of the joys of making mind maps that get posted on Twitter is that you get to combine 140 characters with a map that can poke fun at some bozo in the US Congress or point flame at assholes violating human rights or making a point by joking around about something that is really dumb.

Doing so in a mind map is like drawing a political cartoon for someone like me who is artistically challenged not to mention “losing” the ability to be verbally quick.

My favorite targets include just about any current or past POTUS or member of congress, political candidate especially The Donald, US College sports teams that pay their coaches $10M per year and their players nothing, because the players as supposed to be getting their classes that they never go to and the degree they never earn as payment. I like to clobber current events, research, and public programs (or the lack thereof) that are just plain silly.

Mind maps as political cartoons. They work.

Click on images to zoom in.


and another previously published map.