#TGVTM #MindMap #SketchNote #Doodle #TheGreatVisualThinkingMachine
This is my review of the iMindMap application, Version 11. Since I started reviewing programs for creating mind maps, I have always rated iMindMap as the best of the lot. I have further gone on to say that iMindMap is the best application I own for promoting, improving, motivating, and perfecting visual thinking. With this version, iMindMap continues to evolve while it retains its position as the leader in mind mapping software.
In a way, iMindMap is no longer a mind mapping program in a narrow way. Rather it is the very best program for creating mind maps of any I have ever used. But, in addition to being the best mind mapping program, it contains 6 additional integrated modules that make it into the best integrated visual thinking product on the market.
The most important way that iMindMap transcends a traditional mind map is that the tools provided for mind mapping almost automatically push you into thinking about your topic in a more sophisticated and complete way. It promotes better classifications of ideas, priorities, impact, outcomes, mediating steps, and theories in a way that is so intuitive it is almost like magic. That is, what you know about mind mapping and how to use it effectively, will automatically “in the background” evolve to an even higher level of visual thinking.
The iMindMap program includes a total of 7 interrelated modules that can be used in combination to understand ideas and produce documents that easily communicate your findings. The iMindMap program also includes dozens of tools and techniques that extend the usefulness of the programs.
While the Mind Map module is the central focus and will be the entry point for almost all, other modules supplement input, idea presentation, and specialized applications. It is the overall interaction of these modules that create the thinking environment.
My position is that mind maps are a powerful tool for creating, clarifying, and presenting THOUGHTS. So, I’ve always presented my reviews as mind maps in the past. I continue that tradition here.
Please click on the image to increase its size and see a classification and evaluation of the overall thinking environment including the best mind mapping module available.
This program is a brilliantly conceived thinking system and environment. While the app will continue to evolve over time as it has annually since the beginning of the century through tweaks to current procedures and new breakthroughs, iMindMap as it currently exists is the premier product for supporting innovative and creative thinking and communication.
Several more points.
A few years ago, I introduced the term VIsual THinking ENvironment to describe applications that provide a number of visual thinking tools like mind maps, concept maps, flow charts, diagramming, statistical graphics, and visual representations of models, theories, and new knowledge in an integrated way within a single application.
As I used and experimented with new (or newly revised) mind mapping applications every year, I noticed how they were evolving from mind mapping to thinking environments by continuing to implement new and easier ways to process diagrams, figures, photography, sketches, doodles, and logic models together and build integration among tools that permit input visualization and visual output.
The best (and right now the only) evolving mind mapping application to include related new or adapted visual information processing methods is iMindMap 11. It is the only application that provides a well-conceived suite of techniques to form a Visual Thinking Environment (VITHEN). I believe that iMindMap should be rated A++ as a mind mapping program and A as an evolving VITHEN. I fully expect the entire iMindMap 11 suite to be as useful and developed as the mind mapping module within an iteration or three.
So, what is a VITHEN? The following mind map (created in iMindMap 11) incorporates my definition. A fully developed VITHEN not only will produce mind maps and other graphics but most importantly encourages intelligent use in model and theory building and optimizing creativity and effective knowledge development and presentation.
Click on the image to expand it.
The next posts include a “formal review” of iMindMap 11, examples of advanced mind maps (which I characterize as MIND MODELS), and an analysis of advantages of a VIsual THinking ENvironment over traditional mind mapping and other graphic thinking tools.
I have a series of mind maps that address the ways that I — as a person with dementia — should self-reflect on my own functioning and that I create or shape among others.
Most importantly, I try to ask myself what I learned for tomorrow. And then — by putting it in a mind map — remember what I hope to achieve. If I don’t map it, I probably won’t remember it Or gain from my insights.
Dementia is strange like that. It doesn’t necessarily keep you from having deep insights into issues… it just prevents you from remembering what they were if you don’t write them down. I’d contend that using a visual thinking method like mind mapping is the best way to “write them down.”
If you have not read the Introduction to this series of posts, it is important that you read it before this post. Click here for the Part 00 Introduction. This post is part of a series of more than a dozen posts.
I worked on understanding health and social service programs, especially for the disabled, poor, disenfranchised, and traditionally underserved as a program evaluator for about 25 years. I was very good at it and worked with hundreds of programs spread over most US states.
In writing about my activities to achieve stability in my dementia and maximize my quality of life, I am going to employ the tools of program evaluation to describe what I was trying to achieve, what I did to achieve my goals, why I did various activities, and which parts of my interventions seemed to help me the most. No, not in this post but in a series of more than a dozen posts.
In this post I will start by describing the activities I designed for myself and did throughout my period of diagnosed dementia over six years of living with the disease. In subsequent posts, especially Posts 02 and 03, I will discuss the outcomes of my activities. After that, I will address some of my activities — and especially those that “worked” extremely well for me — and describe them in depth, show how other individuals might use these methods, and how dementia caregiver and healthcare systems might be built around them.
The image below is a mind map. Should you not be familiar with how a mind map is drawn and read, please search this website for posts on mind mapping using the search box. Or, go to the home page by clicking here and look at the list of pre-defined searches.
A very simple set of rules for reading a mind map is as follows.
Click on the mind map to expand its size and zoom to various portions of the map.
As you can see, I tested app after app after app on my Mac and iPhone to see which could help me. I read all about how to mindmap and draw sketchnotes and I practiced and practiced. I learned to read “dog” and taught my Newfie to understand “people.” I doodled, watched the news, built a highly-rated social media following of more than 140,000 individuals interested in healthcare, dementia, visual thinking, and 100s of other topics from around the world. I went to concerts, watched movies, and cheered for the two local universities with huge sports programs. I engaged some new parts of my brain. I thought in pictures.
Stay tuned, the interesting stuff starts next.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with neurodegenerative brain disease with the initial diagnosis being supranuclear palsy which was later amended to the highly related frontotemporal dementia, behavioral type. Some believe that PSP and FTD are variants of the same disease.
I started to examine Mac and iPhone/iPad apps that might be useful early in 2010. After I retired in 2011 I started to use a number of the apps for such things as calendars, task lists, alarms, reminders, and other business-like functions. The business-like apps failed to motivate me to use them continuously nor could they address executive functioning problems that were at the core of my disease. As early as late 2011 I had concluded that mind maps and other visual thinking methods could be very helpful.
As I read about every mind map book around by dozens of authors and bloggers, including the majority of those written by Tony Buzan who makes the claim he is the “inventor” of mind mapping (it is a silly claim no matter who makes it), I rapidly discovered that virtually all visual thinking work focuses on lucrative management consulting that few who use it have strong background in substantive areas like medicine, healthcare, psychology, and related disciplines. What little work exists in mind mapping and other visual techniques within the health and medicine areas indicates a total lack of understanding of visual thinking and is generally painful to read.
I wasn’t scared off by the fact that there was no clear guide to what a person with cognitive impairment and later dementia could do with visual thinking procedures and computer apps to try to improve the ability to cope with dementia. I had, after all, spent 35 years of a successful career as a (nonclinical) psychologist and much of my career had focused on developing new applications of psychological knowledge to addressing medical, psychological and social disorders. And much of the 35 years were spent studying the service care system for those who were least connected with society and traditional healthcare.
I am writing a series of posts (currently more than a dozen) evaluating my experiences during the last six years with a progressive brain disease. Each will focus on a specific test of methods and outcomes I think were achieved.
My studies are one-subject research (often called N=1). I will present results that I believe can be inferred from specific indicators. However, what I discuss is DERIVED FROM MY EXPERIENCE AND MY INTERPRETATIONS OF THE OUTCOMES OF WHAT I DID. I do not claim that any of what I write about is applicable to all people or that what I did should be considered to prove anything as opposed to simply observing it in myself validly or not. And, I see no evidence that the outcomes from what I did have done suggest I found anything to treat or cure or slow the progression of dementia: I never expected them to do so. What I do believe that I have demonstrated for myself is that these methods have helped me maintain a much higher quality of life. Not more days in my life, but many more good days while having dementia. I feel blessed to have received those extra good days.
Most of my “writing” is in pictures. That’s the point of visual thinking.
The following mind map is a general introduction to my work over the past six years. I call it Part 00. Starting with Part 01, I am going to start to present both observations and objective indicators of what happened for me.
Should you not be familiar with how a mind map is drawn and read, please search this website for posts on mind mapping using the search box. Or, go to the home page by clicking here and look at the list of pre-defined searches.
A very simple set of rules for reading a mind map is as follows.
Click on the mind map below to expand it and let’s start the process of understanding of what visual thinking methods help me to do.
I often post about a trio of visual thinking methods that I use (I believe successfully) to deal with my own dementia.
Yes, this is one more post on the “trio topic.” This differs from the earlier posts in that it tries to use a commonsense and nontechnical language to explain how and why these methods seem to work.
Click the mind map to expand it.
The types of visual thinking tools I use to help deal with my own cognitive deficits are mind mapping, sketch noting and doodling. All can be done manually with a pen or pencil and paper. Mind mapping greatly increases its assist by using a program such as my preferred choice iMindMap or alternatives XMIND, MindManager, or dozens of other programs. Sketch noting and doodling are typically done with a pen and paper or a tablet or smartphone and a drawing program.
Click on the mind model (mind map) to expand its size.
Click the image to expand.
More information on mind modeling™? Click here to open a new window.
More information on mind modeling™? Click here to open a new window.
I usually advocate in this blog for using Mind Maps (or my content-centered version I call Mind Models) to have the benefits of visual thinking available to all, including those persons with neurocognitive problems.
If you read the blog, you know that I am using visual thinking methods in my own journey through cognitive decline.
I find that a lot of people are very interested in mind mapping but may not want to make a full investment in using a full-blown mind mapping program.
The alternative that most use is to draw simple diagrams on a pad with a pencil or pen. Many of these diagrams look like spider webs more than mind maps, but this does not bother me at all. Simple quick diagrams are much better than no diagrams and you can get a significant amount of improvement in thinking — especially as your cognitive abilities decline typically with age or more rapidly with neurocognitive disorders.
I have written before about a simple little program named Instaviz (based on one of the most sophisticated mathematical algorithms for automatic diagram creation ever developed). The Instaviz story is a pretty interesting one. Click here to read the prior post in a separate window.
Because Instaviz is such a simple program to use but can create some extremely useful, simple to update, gorgeous diagrams just by drawing some circles and squares with labels on the screen of an iPad or iPhone and then drawing arrows to connect them, the easiest way to “get” why and how the program is useful is better illustrated with a video than a longer discussion.
Watch this video by the developer. In 2 minutes, 21 seconds, you should be able to see why this program produces such useful diagrams in a way that almost exactly mimics the way you probably draw diagrams on a notepad or on the back of a napkin at lunch.
Here are some examples of my use of Instavi. These are not dementia-specific examples, but rather simple diagrams that document my life and ideas and my vacation preferences. All in nice looking diagrams that most people intuitively understand and that can be read (unlike all of the napkins with poor handwriting on porous paper and glass rings muddling it all up) 10 minutes after they are drawn.
You can use Instaviz to quickly draw simplified versions of many of the mind maps I use for managing dementia. Yes, you will lose some of the effects of full-blown mind maps, but Instaviz may be a very good solution for many as the iPad permits such diagrams to be created from simple finger or stylus drawn input.
These diagrams literally take just a few minutes to develop. You just input the information, the program decides where to put the squares and circles and arrows so that diagram will be maximally clear. (Again, refer to the developer’s video.) Done.
To modify the diagrams you just add other squares and circles or erase some, and the diagram automatically (within an eyeblink) redraws itself to achieve maximum readability. Graphics magic to help you think much better, whether you are building diagrams to enhance your memory or to help you decide whether to watch a football game or a cooking show on TV (ok, ok … I know you don’t need a diagram for that but it could help you explain your decision to your spouse or probably not).
Each of these diagrams took me just a few minutes to develop most of which was spent on doing a little more formatting than the very good defaults for the program so that I could show you how good these diagrams can get after a couple minutes of making some artistic decisions.
How much do I life this program for basic visual thinking? Enough so that if I did not have an iPad on which to run it, I would buy a basic iPad just to use this app. Really. The app makes the iPad a must-have device if you like to hand draft visual diagrams whether for final use or as early drafts for enhancement in a more “artistic” mind mapping program. The Instaviz app is currently (June 2016) priced under $8 US.
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.
Mind Model AKA Mind Map
Visual thinking tools in professional practice and client interactions should be taught in nursing, social work, and other professional fields that are part of healthcare or social care.
Outline Map. Definition: Junk thinking. Derivation (Hubaisms): from the Huba term for a boring, sterile outline input to a mind mapping program in order to add pretty formatting. Antonym: Buzan Organic Mind Map.
I believe Tony Buzan’s greatest contribution to the theory and practice of visual thinking to be the development of a rich “organic” mind map that could express context so as to much more accurately provide context for bits of knowledge and express relationships through color, positioning, style, fonts, and images. Looking at a well-done organic mind map promotes understanding how simple facts, experiences, and reactions combine into a synergistic whole.
It is the ability to present complex information in context within simple diagrams which established the mind map as a primary tool for improving visual thinking.
Look at this organic mind map (click to expand)!
If you are looking for the correct way to mind map your life during normal development and aging or cognitive impairment, mental illness, and dementia this is it.
The majority of the posts on this blog are about using visual thinking methods — of which I think that by far the best is #Buzan-style organic mind mapping — to understand, explain, evaluate, and communicate about healthcare. A lot of my own thinking has focused on using visual thinking techniques to potentially improve the quality of life of those with cognitive impairment and dementia.
Tony Buzan and Chris Griffiths and their colleagues and staff at ThinkBuzan have done a very comprehensive job at getting many of Buzan’s ideas embedded into a general purpose computer program (iMindMap) which provides a general visual thinking environment, of which mind mapping is a special part. There are many computer assisted mind mapping programs, but I have concluded that iMindMap is by far the best for creative visual thinking and communication, in no small part because it fully incorporates Buzan’s theory and theoretical implementation.
Like scientists and management consultants and educators and healthcare providers and patients and patient caregivers and students and many others, illustrators struggle with how to best use visual representations to support better thinking and communications.
Which brings up this beautifully conceived and executed little book that I have found to be mind expanding and liberating in how to develop and use a series of illustration techniques and “tricks” to look at things differently when trying to make creative breakthroughs.
Whitney Sherman is the author of the book “Playing with Sketches” which provides 50 exercises which collectively will change the way you think about creating images to understand and communicate ideas.While Ms. Sherman wrote the book for designers and artists, the techniques will be just as useful for visual thinkers in science, education, medicine, industry, and other fields. The beauty of Ms Sherman’s exercises is that in showing you fairly simple ways to make hugely informative and well designed images, the tools will themselves suggest many applications to visual thinkers of all types.
And, I have found that Ms. Sherman’s techniques can be used by the severely artistically challenged (of which I am one); the techniques are ones for Visual THINKERS, not necessarily artists and designers.
I have mentioned this book before in much less detail, but in the months I have used the methods, I have found that they WORK very well to facilitate creative visual thinking. For me they have promoted a breakthrough in how I see the visual thinking canvas.
Get the book, try some of the techniques (pick a random one here and there to start), discover that great artistic talent or aptitude is not required, and see how the techniques fit the information you study in search for better healthcare or disease prevention or decision making or facilitating creative group processes.
In partnership with Tony Buzan’s techniques for organic #mindmapping and Mike Rohde’s framework for #sketchnoting, the techniques codified by Whitney Sherman provide very powerful visual thinking tools.
I will be posting some examples of using the sketching techniques of Ms. Sherman to developing assistance and communication techniques for those with cognitive impairment or early-mid stages of dementia.
For researching, conceptualizing, evaluating, designing, and communicating I prefer to use a VIsual THinking ENvironment or #VITHEN.
There are three tools I use most on my Mac TOGETHER as a visual thinking environment. My preferred programs are iMindMap, Scapple, and Big Hairy Goal. I would rank them 1, 2.5, and 2.5 respectively.
Note that I do not use these three programs alone and on many project use iMindMap plus (Scapple or Big Hairy Goal). Combined these three programs provide an excellent VITHEN. If you only want to work with one program, use iMindMap, the premier and most comprehensive product in this space.
And, yes I coined the term VITHEN.
Click image to expand.
Collectively, these programs will enable you to do many types of visual thinking.
Click image to expand.
Addition: September 19, 2014
I would add iMindQ to the mind mapping program list.
The combination of iMindMap Ultimate and BigHairyGoal is an excellent one for a Mac Visual Thinking Environment. BigHairyGoal is a generally unrecognized program. It is exceptional as a canvas on which to assemble all of the information necessary for a research project. Anyone conducting research assembling text, images, links, and information such as that to be read in a specific word processing or display program should be using this program on a Mac. While iMindMap Ultimate incorporates many of the features of BigHairyGoal, they are far better realized in BHG and the two programs should be used in tandem, perhaps with results from iMindMap displayed on a BigHairGoal canvas with source information ringing the mind map.
In the past, I thought it was quite ironic that the “pad” apps on the iPad were kind of junky. In the most recent updates that has changed. I now find that there are three great choices. Each is inexpensive. Here’s what I think.
Click on the image to zoom.
try to become a world-class visual thinker before advancing to cognitive impairment or dementia. If you are in the early stages of dementia you might also benefit from some of these technique.
There are many posts about these different methods and topics in this blog. Use the search tool to find appropriate posts.
I will continue to make new posts in this series about each of the topics listed in the mind map.
Click the mind map to expand it.
I personally use the methods listed in the mind map to help me deal with my own dementia. I think I am doing a pretty good job of that and you might also, although there are absolutely NO guarantees and I am not suggesting that everyone should try what I do as it is quite possible that they will not benefit if they do experiment with the techniques.
But if you are facing the issues that I am, or are concerned about being prepared for the future whether good or bad, consider looking at visual thinking methods. I learned much, primarily from the writings of Tony Buzan on mind mapping and visual thinking, the writings of Jerome L Singer on mental imagery and daydreaming and my opportunity to work with him when I was much younger, and the encyclopedic work of Roy Grubb on computer programs for visual thinking that has proven to be quite valuable to me. Perhaps the same skills will be helpful to you. It costs little but time to acquire the necessary skills.
Start with mind mapping (Buzan style), doodling and daydreaming in a positive-constructive way, and rich visual note-taking (in the style of Mike Rohde). These are all quite accessible methods.
© 2015 g j huba phd <===> a HubaMap™
Fighting back against cognitive impairment and dementia is not about cataloging the past and mourning what is gone.
Click images to expand.
Fighting back against cognitive impairment and dementia is maximizing the use of the skills and brain functions that are left relatively undamaged and optimizing their creative and effective use.
And, it is rejoicing in what you can still accomplish.
Nothing in this blog post is intended as medical or psychological advice. Should you wish to understand the issues in cognitive training as they pertain to you, consult with your doctor, psychologist, or another licensed healthcare provider. I am neither suggesting that you use cognitive (brain) training or alternate methods of thinking although I have made such a choice for myself. The intent of this post is that you understand the issues with these methods should you be making a choice.
In the past three decades, methods of cognitive training have been developed by many companies. Services are offered by online companies, individual healthcare professionals, and some psychological testing companies.
The developers-owners of cognitive training methods make many claims about how these methods can improve or maintain GENERAL cognitive (brain) functioning for typical adults, those starting cognitive decline, and those entering the faster decline of dementia.
In most cases, costs associated with receiving cognitive training — especially under the supervision of a licensed professional — can be quite high.
As the term is used, cognitive training consists of repeatedly taking cognitive tests developed usually in psychology research studies and typically presented on a computer. Look at a complex picture flashed on the screen rapidly and say where a selected object (thing, person) was shown on the screen. Look for sequences of numbers and letters. Ignore distracting stimuli when looking at the computer screen. In many cases, these tests look like “old time” computer games like Tetris.
These cognitive training procedures are supposed to make you better at thinking by training your brain in certain types of ways that then improve the ability to do a very general and large set of tasks in attention, judgment, planning, and other cognitive processes. It is assumed that learning to perform well ON THESE SPECIFIC TASKS will help you think better in a general way. Unfortunately, it appears after decades of studying cognitive training, it is found that the training on a test will help you get somewhat (and it is a small somewhat) better at taking THAT TEST ONLY and not in similar cognitive tasks more related to day-to-day activities. Yes, you might get better at identifying flashing letters when they appear on the screen, but there is little, if any, replicable evidence that becoming good at the test generalizes into being good at exercising attention in real world situations.
Just what you always think when you think about psychology. Psychologists study “dumb” tasks that look little like real world situations and then claim that getting good at those tasks will change your life. You usually laughed when you read this stuff in news outlet stories. Nonetheless, cognitive training continues to sell and expand and advertise. Money can be made selling cognitive training to individuals concerned with their current and future ability to think well and remember and maintain independence. Many claims are made that the methods work and the glossy, high-priced advertising is convincing, but the statistics are not. And yes, the companies that sell cognitive testing products claim that the training works if THEY conduct the experiments and evaluate their own products. However, ongoing INDEPENDENT RESEARCH suggests this is NOT the case.
Did you really expect the ethics of cognitive training companies to exceed those of pharmaceutical companies? The false claims to be less? Big money, big pressure to prove that these things work.
Independent psychologists who evaluate the effectiveness of programs and assertions of others do not find much if any, effect of cognitive training on improving general cognitive functioning, thinking, and performance in real-life situations faced by aging adults.
The most important INDEPENDENT EVALUATION appears in a journal of the Association for Psychological Science of which I am a Fellow. APS is one of the two major psychological associations in the USA and designation as a Fellow comes only after a thorough peer evaluation of competence.
Click here to see a short summary of the research that examines all of the research over several decades on cognitive training. The full report is 83 pages. I still understand most of the mumbo-jumbo in the full report. You will have to pay to purchase the full report if you are not a member of APS. My judgment is that the summary is very accurate in presenting the results of this research through what is called a meta-analysis and I doubt that most people need read more than the 1-page summary.
OK then, so cognitive training probably will not turn out to be the big fix for what ails your thinking as you age or you have a neurodegenerative (neurological) disease. Maybe improvements will be made in future decades but right now the effects appear to be tiny at best.
What’s the alternative?
I have argued for a number years that learning alternate ways of thinking and expanding the types of information your brain can effectively process can be very useful throughout your life. While learning such strategies in childhood is best, you can keep learning new ways to think up until the day you die and expect to get some significant return for your work.
What kinds of activities have been shown to increase brain function? Learning additional languages, studying a musical instrument, learning math, creating art or stories, and many others to which we all have access, typically with a minimum expense. These are real-world activities and many are a lot of fun.
As I progressed through cognitive decline and dementia I have come to believe that learning what are called visual thinking methods — arranging information into pictures that organize major ideas and show the “big picture” — can help you in many ways I have documented throughout this blog (Hubaisms.com). Of course, my findings are based only my own observations of myself and not on formal studies. I note, however, that sometimes observations are better sources of information than research studies, especially from individuals touting products they have invested millions of dollars in developing.
I think that the fuzzy research on cognitive training and the fact that mind mapping is seen as effective at most Fortune 500 corporations, many universities worldwide and by millions of users worldwide at this time suggests that learning alternate WAYS TO THINK probably is much more effective than cognitive training (akin to playing a 1980s computer game).
My suggestion is that if you are concerned that your ability to think will decline or you are already experiencing cognitive decline, you take some time (1-8 hours will help you evaluate this) and determine if visual thinking is useful for you. You can read my work on this blog or work created by Buzan when he popularized mind mapping in business and education or look at many other authors who write on this topic such as Nast. Major summaries and videos are available online. If you would like to see someone with dementia use mind mapping, you can click here to watch a number of short videos of my mind mapping process in a new window.
Alternate visual thinking methods that I find useful are SKETCHNOTES, doodles, cartoons, and graphs.
You can try mind maps, sketchnotes, doodles, cartoons, and graphics with a few pencils or pens you already own and a piece of paper (A4 or 8.5×11 in landscape mode).
Later you can buy computer apps to make the visual thinking look better if you want but you need not do so.
Look at the image below to show the way I think about the information in this post visually using a mind map.
If you want me to understand something or remember it, DRAW ME A PICTURE. I’m a lot smarter than you might think if you just talk to me. Oh, and you need not be artistic at all to use the techniques in visual thinking so don’t use the excuse that you have no “talent.”
Click on the image to expand it.
Since 2012, this blog has tried to help persons with dementia and their caregivers learn to use mind maps and other visual thinking tools to simplify the journey through dementia and lessen some of the burdens placed upon caregivers and persons with dementia.
Mind mapping and other visual thinking tools are ways of representing ideas and communicating through pictures and diagrams. In addition to mind maps, other useful visual thinking tools are sketchnotes, doodles, diagrams, and photography.
I focus on mind maps because that is what I primarily use, but sketchnotes and other ways of representing information are also good.
Note that while I use computer programs, you can draw any of these diagrams with a piece of typing paper (if this is not big enough for you, tape a few pieces together), a pencil or pen, and a little care to print legibly. It is best to use a few colored pencils to make the diagram a little clearer but not necessary.
The important part of the diagrams is the organization and the words (ideas) you express.
The mind map below shows some of the people who might benefit from your diagrams including the person with dementia and YOU. Mind maps are a very powerful way of presenting information to others and organizing and remembering your thoughts.
Virtually any kind of information can be presented in a diagram. Here are some examples. As you collect such information you can make it available to others.
Persons with dementia benefit from knowing their schedules and what is coming up. It cuts anxiety. Doctors can absorb information from you rapidly, in context, and accurately. My internist and neurologist like to see them. Family members will like to see what is going on, and this is a way to manage and increase their own involvement in care. Mind maps about what the person with dementia likes and behaves can make your job an easier one for others to assume so that you can have some well-needed respite. Care notes can help everyone know what has been going on for the person with dementia.
Whether these notes are made by a family caregiver and loved one or made by a paid caregiver, they can be invaluable both for maintaining the quality of care and informing others the best ways they can help
Click on the image to expand it.
Because of my cognitive impairment I started to use mind mapping to communicate and assist me in thinking in 2010.
Click image to expand.
The following presentation breaks the mind map above into more manageable pieces. It will run automatically or you can click the pause button and then go through the presentation manually using the arrow keys.
At this point in my life, I am much better at drawing pictures, or structured learning and thinking pictures (mind maps), than writing out a long list of arguments.
I have “street cred” in making the points in these two mind maps. Been there, done that.
Before making the main points I’d like to tell a short story. In addition to the information in this first mind map, between 1993 and 2010, I ran many “evaluation and technical assistance centers” for the US Government on their identified and funded innovative and targeted HIV/AIDS Services programs.
The biggest lesson I ever learned as a professional during this period was that the people with the disease knew a lot more about the problems with the service system (and how to fix them) than I did. I was “schooled” in 1993 by 19-year-old Scott, a brilliant young man who was the President of Bay Area Young Positives, a peer organization. Although he never graduated from high school before he graduated to the streets of San Francisco, he knew far more about how to fix the system than I did. Before I could meet with him at a next scheduled meeting four months later, he had died from AIDS.
I thought about Scott for years as I do about many others like him I met over the next five years who have been helped by the miracle of modern combination antiretroviral therapies. In my professional judgment, at the time I knew him, Scott was probably in advanced stages of AIDS-related dementia. Yet at that time, he knew more about why the service system failed than I did. Even though he was handicapped by the communication system of the time (words and more words and anger and more angry words), he did make it clear that we were all fucked up and did not understand facts standing right in front of our noses. He was right.
Pictures and websites and 25 years of advancement in communication methods should make us better at jointly solving problems with the service system.
Sadly, in the area of dementia, these methods have not been used to their full potential.
We have to fix the websites of most dementia-related organizations. Those websites are not providing information to all (INCLUDING and especially to persons with dementia) as well as they should nor are they encouraging all to react to the contents although they do encourage all to make contributions, join research studies, visit their web stores, and come to their clinics for treatment.
Ask someone with dementia how they feel about your dementia website. You might get “schooled.” And that would be good.
Click on the images to expand them.
Why I feel I can “yell” at you …
and what I have to say …
The two most important doctors I have for trying to remain self-sufficient are Dr Google and Dr Me. Both are largely dependent upon useful and quality and relevant information on the Internet. Unlike my providers who require appointments weeks (months) in advance, Dr Google and Dr Me are available to consult 24/7 without cost. Make your website communicate better to Dr Me (who has dementia) and you will help him and Dr Google maintain my ability to understand and care for myself.
Make it so. Please!!!
PS. The methods I advocate throughout my blog and book are ones that cost pennies per day for an individual to use and which would also greatly improve websites very inexpensively. Mind maps, sketchnotes, cartoons, doodles, color coding, informative videos … all ideas that work better and are not expensive to implement.
If you do not use visual methods to enhance your memory and powers of decision making and ability to prioritize and methods of communication you are a fool.
How do I know this? Do I look like a fool to you? Have you seen all of the visual stuff on this blog site?
I have started to add this logo to many of my posts.
Here is what it means.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with a very rare neurodegenerative disease that also includes dementia. I have a mixture of symptoms of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and Frontotemporal Dementia (many neurologists do not think that these are separate brain diseases). The dementia has features that are different from those of Alzheimer’s Disease in that general memory loss is not as much of an issue in PSP/FTD at the early stages but loss of executive functioning, personality change, social isolation, and other cognitive-personality-motor are more pronounced at the early stages (like all brain diseases, eventually all of the brain functions are severely affected, although the order of appearance of severe impairment in different brain functions differs among diseases).
Given that most of the diseases that cause dementia have no cures or even a pharmaceutical means to slow the rate of disease progression (including mine), I concluded that I should use what I had learned in the 37 years since receiving my doctoral degree in psychology to try to employ behavioral-cognitive tools as a way of assisting me in dealing with the stages of disease and dementia. I tried 100s, if not a thousand, apps on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac to list to-do items (tasks), calendar, ring alarms when I should swallow pills, recall the names of long term friends and their children, remember what I had for lunch, and run a continuing social life in a university town with great restaurants and concerts and theater.
Forget the traditional To-Do Apps and Fancy Calendars and Alarms Apps going off in tandem on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Forget what people (especially developers) call “dementia assistance” apps.
For me, the one thing that worked was Buzan-style organic mind mapping which in its more general form is really a method of using visual objects (pictures, drawings, tree-like diagrams) to shift to critical visual thinking to retrain the brain to use techniques and areas of the frontotemporal lobe that are relatively unaffected by the brain disease.
I think mind mapping worked very well for me. It did not cure my brain disease (how could a technique of drawing pictures to enable better thinking change the anatomy of nerves and neurotransmitters?). I don’t think it slowed down the progression of my disease (again, how could a cognitive procedure affect how fast nerve cells become dysfunctional and die?). But I do know the mind mapping greatly improved my quality of life because it allowed me to think better, create more than 300 blog posts since 2011, obtain more than 95,000 followers on Twitter, 350 friends on Facebook, more than 2,000 connections to other professionals on LinkedIn, have 750 individuals following my PinInterest boards, and hundreds of re-Scoops from my Scoop.it boards on neurology, mind mapping, and my quirky sense of humor. Oh, and I also WROTE a book about the the mind mapping techniques and how I used them and why I think these worked FOR ME.
If you want to see about all of my work, ideas, experiments on myself, and conclusions about the efficacy of mind mapping in increasing my own quality of life during stages of increasing cognitive impairment and dementia, LOOK TO YOUR LEFT and click on one of the “book cover buttons” to order the ebook on the iBookstore (for Apple hardware) or the Amazon Kindle Store (for non-Apple hardware supported by a Kindle app). Read the book and you will know the why and how in a very integrated way that transcends this blog. After seeing the hundreds of images, you will also understand why this book could not be published in a paper format and why the materials all need to be presented together.
More importantly than any of the professional achievements that are more quantifiable mentioned above, I think that mind mapping helped me feel far less anxiety because I could still understand information at the level I had been trained, sparked my creativity, help me behave better in social situations by planning them in advance, and enhanced my ability to function in family and larger social networks. It is the positive effect of being able to better interact with my family for which I am the most grateful.
Here’s a few more thoughts in a mind map. Click it to expand the map. I am very glad I used mind mapping in the five years I have been coping with cognitive impairment and dementia. I did and still do enjoy a very high quality of a life I greatly enjoy.
Oh, and one final note … You only get the full benefits of these techniques if you use Buzan-style organic mind maps. Those “maps” you have seen with thin lines, little color or curvature, and a half sentence on each branch, are not the “real deal” and do not produce the same good results as do the Buzan style organic mind mps.
This is my second post on the world-wide social brain. Click here to see the first post.
Click on the image to expand it.
Have any recent pictures of your family or cat or car or your vacation last summer? With the exception of the cat pictures I would love to see them. (I am a dog person, no cat pictures from me.)