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

Search results for writing mind map

Remember when you were about 4 years old … you’d sit with Mom or the Preschool Teacher or even Dad when he was not fixing the car or mowing the lawn or golfing. You would look at the book they were holding. Remember that? It was just a little more sophisticated than those you read when you were 2 … you know, the ones with the big bright pictures that may have been made of cloth so that you could turn the pages yourself and look at the pictures (there were no words) and drool on the pages. Now those were pretty hard to rip too.

But back to being 4. Those were BOOKS. Beautiful pictures of animals and families and trucks and dolls and food. And a few of those things made of a few letters that told you something about those beautiful PICTURES. Those pictures, arranged as they were in binding, told you a story just by looking at them one after the other. And of course, the story was even better when Mom made up a plausible narrative to go with the pictures.

When you hit 64 you may have declining cognitive acuity (remember those “senior moments?”) or even early stages of dementia. You may be undergoing treatment for cancer or a heart attack or a stroke and not be able to concentrate on a dense book. How about reading like you were 4 again? There are lots of great picture books (often on coffee tables), family members who will discuss them with you, and maybe even grandchildren who you can “read” them to (or who might read them to you).

Think about this … From the age of 4 until the time that your health severely declines you have been taught by society that books with few pictures and increasingly more and longer words in smaller fonts represent greater sophistication by the adult reader. Those who would still read stories in pictures are characterized as “uneducated,” “semi-literate,” “not smart enough to read more than a comic book” or as a “TV addict.” Back when you were 4 and understood how to read pictures, your parents went around beaming at their brilliant offspring all ready to go to college. And those writings of yours mading with brightly colored crayons and scribble markings hung in your parents’ office or bedroom until they disintegrated. Mom and Dad knew you were a budding novelist or future White House reporter for the New York Times.

I have found that relearning the “reading” and “writing” skills I had at the age of 4 has helped me greatly at the age of 64 when I no longer have the cognitive skills I had when 24 or 44 or even 54.

Writing and reading and THINKING in “Mind Map” is a great thing and a skill 4 year olds can develop and 64 year olds can perfect. After all, “organic” dialect of “mind map” is the native language of visual thinking.

Make up stories for your thoughts and scribble away.

Click on the diagram to expand it.


Oh, if you hum “When I’m 64” by the Beatles, you will understand and remember this mind map even better. Look up the lyrics or download a copy of the song from your favorite online music store and get out those headphones.

Click on the image to expand it.

The Process of Writing in Mind Map



<p>The Process of Writing in “Mind Map” </p>

<pre><code>CART Algorithm
basket of
but thorough
step 1
lecture notes
research literature
public domain
by you
lecture notes
step 2
rough outline
1st draft
mind map
step 4

target audience
guide for
future work
add notes
step 3
additional drafts
2nd drafts
repeat as needed
important but often ignored part of process
© 2013-2014 g j huba phd





The map IS the end product or document. And developing the “mind map” as the product of visual thinking is a “language.”

[This is a small update of a mind map from last year.]

And since the mind map is the document and product of my visual thinking, all I really need to write is “click on image to expand.”


writing in mind map

This morning my friend Hans Buskes (@hansbuskes) who gets up six hours earlier than I do (he is six time zones away in the Netherlands) was tweeting about an ancient mind map is a language as yet undeciphered. He mentioned that some computer programs had been run on the ancient manuscript that confirmed that the symbols on it met the criteria for a formal language although the meaning had not yet been deciphered.

This sentence set off a flash in my recently coffee-enhanced brain.

Both I and Hans have been thinking about how to develop syntax and semantics for “writing” in the “language” of mind maps.

As an initial step, why not assemble 500-1000 mind maps that experts agree are exemplary ones from the Bigger Plate archival library and study how their semantic and syntax elements are similar? Scientists have been studying the syntax and semantics of languages for decades (if not centuries) using methods that could be adapted to studying excellent mind maps and developing some guidelines for “what communicates well.”

Coffee is a great thing. I prefer mine American style, in a huge mug, and without sugar or cream. Just turn on the creative juices. (American coffee works a lot better for opening the gates of creativity than that excellent tasting expresso I was drinking in Italy, Spain, and France last week.)

One of the dumbest things that I have seen in the mind mapping literature — primarily written by “professional” mind mappers typically from a business background and with huge hourly billing rates — is that writing in mind map for others is not possible for most people because it is too personal.


If you have real content to present and use reasonable syntax and semantics, you can develop mind maps that others can learn to read, critique, remember, and use. Better. Stronger. Faster. And as Buskes points out, the sooner we develop common semantics-syntax for mind maps, the sooner we will all be able to read each other’s maps at least as easily as paragraphs. Buskes favors empirical studies to determine the best semantics-syntax as do I.

Judge these assertions from my blog and that of Hans Buskes. If you have real content (not bullshit theories developed from the half-baked understanding of someone else’s work) and employ semantic-syntax constructions designed to communicate to the majority of folks you can find that mind maps offer greater understanding than paragraphs of dense text.

But you gotta use real data and logical thoughts and actually want to communicate with someone else. This is not rocket science, just using skills you should have learned in elementary school by grade four. (Or if you are in the failing American education system by grade six.)

Don’t listen to the nay-saying gurus who have a vested interest in convincing you that you cannot write in mind map (as they can) so that you will pay their large consulting fees.

I believe Hans Buskes and Tony Buzan when they write-demonstrate that good mind maps can be written so that they can be universally understood. And that the skills of successful mind mapping can be developed by most adults and virtually all children. And that the resulting maps can be informative, well-researched, creative, and extremely interesting (see the online work of Dr Buskes). I also believe that communicating through mind mapping can make technical and life skill information more accessible to many more people including those with declining cognitive skills and learning disabilities and mental illness and allow them to better expressive themselves. And that visual data displays and writing tools are now fully supported by computer technology.

The best mind map is an accurate one that the most people can understand.

Not rocket science at all.

A few recent examples are given below. There are 100s of such maps in my blog posts.


what neurologically-impaired individuals might gain from mind mapping

There have been several new “blank canvas” Mac apps released recently. The main three are Scapple (A+), Delineato Pro (A-) and Mindix (still in early development). These programs are not mind mapping ones. They are very simple ways of cutting and pasting snippets, links, pictures, paragraphs and other information onto a large canvas or sheet of paper like those we used to decorate the walls during meetings.

The mind map below shows features of the various blank canvas apps.

Scapple and Delineato are both highly recommended.

ADDITION March 2, 2014: Big Hairy Goal has recently been released for the Mac and is comparable to Mindix but much more highly developed. I consider Big Hairy Goal worth rating A.

blank canvas  apps not  mind maps



[Context: After hundreds of articles in peer-reviewed publications over four decades, I think this is one of the more important ideas I have ever written about.]

I have been learning (and hopefully making creative developments to) the language “Mind Map.”

No, not how to draw mind maps. Rather, how to express myself through developing (which is more than drawing) a mind map in a computer program.

Expressing. Communicating content, knowledge, creative ideas. Summarizing huge amounts of knowledge in pictorial form. Even trying to be humorous with images and juxtapositions of words and pictures.

Why? Not everyone writes equally well irrespective of quality of education. Much knowledge is nonlinear in a world of linear languages. Even my writing style has been shifting to the kind of snappy short words found on Buzan-style mind maps and in length-limited languages like Twitter and Klingon. The language “Mind Map” might be especially useful for those who are not strong writers, those who want to be stronger writers by combining a spoken language and  the language “Mind Map,” those who age normally, those who age atypically, those who suffer from a head injury or brain disease, those who have various language problems, those who think visually, those who get distracted and cannot focus attention while writing in spoken languages. [Research is needed to support or reject these speculations.]

The language “Mind Map” is, for many, potentially “so easy a caveman can do it.” Whoops ….. they did.




Now shifting back to writing in “Mind Map.” Please click to expand.

writing in mind map


  1. I believe the syntax for writing “Mind Map” by Tony Buzan and the translation program iMindMap by ThinkBuzan are the most effective to date.
  2. Probably the best “native writer” in “Mind Map” is Hans Buskes (@hansbuskes). Philippe Packu is also excellent. I think I am pretty good at it too and the theorist in the stadium.

CLICK HERE to open another window showing all of the posts to date (more than 20 are expected) in this series on The Great Visual Thinking Machine.

#TGVTM #TheGreatVisualThinkingMachine #MindMap #CognitiveDecline

#Aging #NormalAging #TypicalAging #Alzheimers

This is post is part of a projected series of at least 20 posts. Searching for any of the keywords given above in the search box for this site will list all of the tweets in this series. The search box is located in the upper left corner of each post. The most accurate search should come from TGVTM or #TGVTM.

In the two prior posts (Prologue, Part 1) I have discussed a model for a general model of cognitive information process for improving thinking It is my belief that the model can be used by adults with typical patterns of aging as well as those with cognitive impairment and dementia. The model is characterized by several major features. These are

  1. a large percentage of the information input and process and outcome information are in visual form;
  2. the model uses a unique blend of methods of processing combinations of primarily visual materials.

I call the model The Great Visual Thinking Machine™. The acronym is TGVTM™. The TGVTM is not a physical machine like a computer or automobile. Rather it a combination of procedures and knowledge as well as computer and commonsense algorithms that allow you to easily process large amounts of visual and verbal information. The key to the TGVTM is a way of using “pictures” to organize information, thoughts, and the results of processes. It can aid in better understanding related information, coding complex information into high-information images, an advanced way of increasing the likelihood that the information can be retrieved. The intent of the TGVTM is to produce generally better overall thinking.

Some examples that you might want to consider to visualize my concept are:

  1. the laboratory of Dr. Emmet Brown in the movies Back to the Future I, II, and II;
  2. the chocolate factory of Willy Wonka in the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory;
  3. and — of course — the machines built by Cyberdyne Systems for Skynet which then produced the machines in The Terminator and its numerous sequels;
  4. and the last but the best analogy is the programs, environment, and thought processes of the characters living inside The Matrix I, II, and III. Plug Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus into the Matrix and watch their information process become almost entirely visual as they battle Agent Jones and Agent Brown.

The following mind map summarizes some of my visual thinking about The Great Visual Thinking Machine and is procedures and processes.

Who benefits from using TGVTM? Originally I developed it for adults to compensate for Cognitive impairment and Dementia (in many of various forms). Then I considered adults with typical aging processes and believe that it is just as relevant for them, especially if they want to have tools for combatting cognitive decline and disorders. So, every adult.

My conception of TGVTM was partially derived from Tony Buzan’s work on mind mapping; research and theory by J. Singer, J. Antrobus, and G. Huba on daydreaming; research and theory R Gardner, D. Jackson, and S. Messick as well as H. Witkin in individual differences in cognitive process and their relationship to personality and intelligence; R. Sternberg on cognition and intelligence; M. Rohde on sketchnoting and doodling; and S. Brown’s seminal publication on doodling. My ideas about how to implement TGVTM were heavily influenced by C. Griffiths monumental work on the program iMindMap expanding and computerizing Buzan’s theories of mind mapping). Of course, research and writings of dozens of others have also influenced in many different ways.

Oh, one other significant fact. I developed my entire theory and procedures between 2010 and the present (now 2019) during a period when I had cognitive impairment and dementia (of a type which is not Alzheimer’s Disease but rather a type of frontotemporal lobar degeneration) I started with a knowledge. The work started with ideas I had developed since the release of the computer program MindManager 2 a decade earlier and my experimentation with it and later versions.

As to the proof that The Great Visual Thinking Machine works, they are limited to the development of the method to personally assist me while having dementia and trying to lead a productive and full life with the condition. However before you run away muttering I’m nutz or live in a state where marijuana is legal,, consider the objective indices I would use to support the positive effects of The Great Visual Thinking Machine on me. Between 2012 and now (early 2919), I have built a following of about 135,000 on Twitter. I have about 5,000 additional followers on other social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest).  I wrote a well-reviewed book. I appear on many top 10, 25, or 100 lists of social media experts-influencers. I do my laundry, remember the places I loved most for vacations, have organized memories of everything from favorite movies and Allman Brothers songs to special moments and sporting events and concerts I went to. I’ve analyzed many daily-life decisions and their impacts for me and my family. Without the TGVTM I’ don’t believe I would have accomplished any of this, and the next post will explain why.

Click the images to expand them.


I have been writing a lot on this blog about apathy during the past months. It has been an increasing annoyance and in some ways debilitating symptom. Where is the off switch? I’ve been looking for it for a long time. I cannot find a personal way within my control to turn apathy on and off, even though I do cycle through periods of greater and less apathy all week, often during the same day.


A mind map shown below discusses my dilemma. Click on the image to expand it.

my brain with dementia apathy condition


Click here for other posts on apathy.

It’s the elephant in the room.

elephant small

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.

What is a VIsual THinking ENvironment (VITHEN)? Click here to find out.

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.

  1. I strongly believe that the iMindMap program will help promote better quality thinking for most of those of all ages over 12.
  2. I also strongly believe that mind maps and visual thinking environments will be extremely useful for at least some individuals with declining cognitive skills, especially if they start mind mapping before the onset of cognitive decline or during early stages. I base that conclusion on my own experience in using this program and others to extend the period of minimal cognitive decline that occurs during a neurological disease, as a consequence of trauma, or other myriad problems. I have neurological disease and dementia.
  3. When I first started mind mapping using iMindMap, I was in an early-mid stage of dementia. My early reviews of the program (more than 5 years ago) took me approximately 2-4 hours to mind map and write the accompanying text. In later years, it took more time over more days. I spent at least 8-12 hours working on the mind map here and writing this review over more than a month. The production of the review was slowed down by my own feelings of not having energy and feeling apathy to various degrees. BUT, I was still able to produce a full review of comparable quality to my own reviews of the past after so many years have passed. That is a better outcome than I had expected when I started in 2010. All of the blog posts I have made and all of the mind maps I have developed over the years occurred when I was in cognitive decline and all are on this blog site. The timeline on the left of each web page will allow you to compare the mind maps I could produce years ago with those I now produce. All current mind maps since July 2018 were developed with iMindMap 11.
  4. Over the years I have used virtually all of the competing mind map products both on the Mac and on an iPad. I could not have developed my own mind maps with the other programs and achieved the same outcomes.
  5. While everybody hopes that the software they need to use is provided for free, iMindMap is far beyond any free or low-cost software. It is also as suitable a way to learn mind mapping for the first time as it is as a professional tool. I see the programs current pricing as appropriate for the high value of the thinking environment.
  6. This review used the Mac version of iMindMap 11.

What I have been achieving with mind maps during cognitive decline? Click here for more information.

To access all of my prior reviews of iMindMap (since Version 3), click here.


NOTE: Version 11 OF iMindMap was released the first week of May 2018. At this time (7-1-18) I have been using the program for about two months. I will have a full review posted within a week or two. As a brief note, Version 11 includes a number of enhancements. The program remains the best one for mind mapping and the updates made from Version 10 to 11 are significant and worth the upgrade price.

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 rather than the larger desktop monitor.]


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.

Nomenclature: FTD is an acronym for Frontotemporal Dementia, the most common form of young onset (before age 65) dementia.

Mind modeling is an advanced form of mind mapping.

Part 2 of this series can be opened in a new window  by clicking here.

If I had to use one newspaper article of general interest to describe my fascination with mind mapping while I have frontotemporal dementia, I would select one that appeared in the New York Times in 2008. Interestingly the article appeared while I was in the beginning or middle stages of FTD but before diagnosis.

You can open that article in a new window by clicking the image below.


Here is another article that recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal. I literally just read this article for the first time this morning while doing final editing of this post. I say that this was funny to me because I have started wearing old Hawaiian shirts from vacations to the islands of Hawaii I made in the 1990s and 2000s. [There is a reference in this article by EJ Sternberg MD to a man who with FTD who wore Hawaiian shirts every day.] I do note that I wash the shirts after wearing them one time and that it is in the 90s all summer in North Carolina. Click the image to open the article and learn about Hawaiian shirts, art, and frontotemporal dementia.


There are a number of similar articles on the Internet.

While I have only rarely (as an example of what you could do) set out to create a mind map that was “Art” (with a capital A), I think many of my thousands of mind maps in this blog can be viewed (as incredibly boring and elementary or interesting and mind capturing) “art” (with a lower case a).

I create mind maps as a way to organize thoughts, manage my life, communicate with others, and document the course of my neurodegenerative condition and methods of coping with it. As art, not really, but I greatly enjoy merging colors and shapes and especially fonts with information and VISUAL THINKING. But over five years, I have gotten pretty good (at least in my estimation) in applying the colors and designs and elements of paintings into my computer-assisted mind maps. As my conception of a traditional Buzan-style mind map has evolved significantly, I have also entered another plane of combining information with elements of art to express my conclusions better and worked out a theory of mind modeling that expanded the concept of the mind map. This blog has more than 750 posts and several thousand mind models/maps ALL created since I have had diagnosed with FTLD (formerly as the PSP variant and then as FTD).

You can access my concept of the MIND MODEL by clicking the link. More important for an INDEX of my mind model theoretical writings, click this second link The results open in a new window.

Based on my experience — and my experience ONLY — I wonder if my use of organic mind models (AKA mind maps) with professional experience, observations, data, and my conclusions show how artistic impulses can be combined with mind models as a communication method during various stages of FTD.

Below are some examples of my recent mind models (AKA mind maps). Art is in the eye of the beholder and I hope you have a benevolent eye. Clicking on any of the images will expand its size.

The process of my mind models is described throughout this blog. In simple summary, it takes me 1-2 hours to create one of these mind models (now). When I walk away from the computer I often forget what map I am working on and an hour of two after posting it on my blog I have no idea what my most recent posts were and I have to go to the web site and look at the index. However, when I open a post and look at the map for even a minute or two, I can immediately recover my logic for creating it.

Yeah, it baffles me too even after 35 years of practice as a psychologist doing research on altered states of consciousness (drug abuse and its treatment), imagery and daydreaming, elder abuse and dementia, aging and nursing models, mental illness, neuropsychological testing, and evaluating healthcare and social care.

During this same period of neurodegenerative disease I have become a rudimentary sketch noter, doodler, and sketcher who spends several hours a day “playing” with pens and pencils and more recently watercolor inks and an assortment of typing papers and artist sketch pads. Am I any good at that stuff. NO. But, it does help organize my life and plan and remember. Most importantly, it makes me feel calmer and happy.

Click on the images to expand them.

What Does Living Well with Dementia Mean

Trust Findings from [Peer-Reviewed] Health Professional Meetings I Can Sell You Idaho or California.

Mind Model vs Organic-Style Mind Map

Persons with Dementia and Family Caregivers Partnership and Reciprocal Relationship

Adult Coloring Books & Imaginative Drawing & Doodling & MindModeling & Aging

To Live Well with Dementia You Need to Commit to Being a Life-Long Learner


And I typically make between 10-50 like doodles like the following examples daily, often while watching TV or sitting in my bright kitchen looking out the window. It helps soothe the savage beast! And, I am especially obsessed with color shades.

flag - 1






One of the most valuable — if not the most valuable — neurological constructs recently introduced and the focus of much research is that of cognitive reserve. Although the idea of cognitive reserve has been around for more than 125 years, it first became important as a research topic with huge clinical implications for dementia services and prevention about 20 years ago.

The basic concept of cognitive reserve is the old adage “use it or lose it.”

Eeeecccchhhh. (Not that one again.)

Brain reserve can perhaps better described as …

“If you use it (the brain) in such a way as to expand the brain’s pathways by learning new things (everything from playing a musical instrument to intricate dancing to painting to exploring the world to exercising regularly to learning how to mind map and organize all of the new information you probably will find that if your brain is damaged by disease or trauma you may not have as severe symptoms of dementia as someone who has not used their brain fully.”

Expand all of the things your brain can do and if brain disease or a car hits you, it will be more likely that some of the expanded functions your brain can continue to handle will help you continue to maintain your quality of life for a longer period than if you had not done the “brain exercise” to expand the many functions of your brain. Go get a trombone or ballet slippers or some art supplies and have fun and exercise your brain at the same time. Try out the visual thinking methods I advocate and then master them. Learn to hit a 3-pointer as consistently as Steph Curry. Learn a computer coding language. Learn to be a gourmet cook and expand the ability of your taste buds to discriminate between Italian regional cuisines. Spend a few days in an art museum sketching some of the famous (or not so famous) paintings and see if you can learn different techniques from different artists by sketching their work.

I focus on visual thinking tools in my writing because there have been a number of demonstrations — although no real empirical studies that meet professional standards — that expanding one’s ability to think visually has some huge benefits for the workings of the brain. It is very clear that the educational systems of the world in modern times have not emphasized visual skills. In fact, visual thinking skills such as daydreaming, doodling, annotating notes with pictures, and understanding how the pictures capture important ideas that go together and form larger hierarchical “mind maps” were actively discouraged. I recopied my college calculus notes because a prof I had hassled me in class about my doodling in the margins (and yes these were my attempts to visualize the equations, not home-made versions of Doonesbury. Throughout my elementary, junior high school, and high school years students in classrooms were criticized (and sometimes also struck with a metal ruler) when they daydreamed.

If those of us who are older can increase our visual thinking skills, it is quite possible that your brain reserve will be larger when you have to face a brain disease, and that some of the dementia symptoms from the disease will be delayed (in relationship to the amount of brain damage) for quite a long time or at least make their severity seem less until the reserve is “used up” and no longer can the long lasting results from “brain exercising” — a large brain reserve — help to fight against a severe level of damage to the brain.

Can you build up a cognitive reserve by shifting to such techniques as mind modeling (aka mind mapping) or sketchnoting or many other visual techniques? I think that my development of a big cognitive reserve from using the techniques I demonstrate in this blog have helped me maintain quality of life.

I think results such as mine are explained by the emerging wide research on cognitive reserve. I am hopeful that sometime soon one of the research leaders will turn her attention to studying mind mapping or doodling and daydreaming to determine how much these techniques can build later (and current) cognitive reserve.

Here are my thoughts on visual thinking and cognitive reserve expressed in my usual mind model (a form of advanced thinking I still can do with dementia even when I have difficulty buttoning my shirt). Click on the image to expand it.

Whether you agree with me on the usefulness of visual thinking tools or not, go out and find something new to learn. Everyone in the world has some brain expanding things they would like to learn. Follow yours and it may help you if you encounter brain conditions much later or tomorrow. The worse that could happen is that you will have had fun and can now play a trombone.

Click on the image to expand it.

Theory of How Visual Thinking [MindModeling aka MindMapping] Helps Build Cognitive Reserve




Doctor Showing Human Brain Flat Design

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

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You have been diagnosed with a brain condition. Re-learn how to think. Learn new information and how to use mental tools. Learn how to relax and feel more calm.

You have been learning all of your life. Recommit to continue learning, even if it is hard. The benefits can be great. Even if you only have a few more good days with your family or feel better about yourself part of the time, that may still be a very big gain in quality of life for you.


Click the mind map image to expand it.

To Live Well  with Dementia  You Need to Commit to  Being a  Life-Long Learner

Note 1: All of my posts in this blog and my graphics were prepared after I was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative condition in 2010. My most recent diagnosis was frontotemporal dementia.

Note 2: I do not endorse any of the commercial brain training computer programs, nor do I use any of these myself. All techniques suggested in the mind map above can be used with a piece of paper and a writing implement. I do suggest that you may want to use a general purpose computer program for mind mapping and/or sketching on a computer (I do) and also note that basic programs can be obtained for free or at a very low cost if you just want to try the methods. Even the most expensive of the relevant programs have free trial periods of various lengths.



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Fonts are a preview of what text will say before you even read it.

Most major corporations have proprietary fonts that you will often recognize before you even read the text.

Some examples.

  • The two Star Trek Fonts used on the title screens of movies
  • The Star Wars font used on titles and the scrolling synopsis
  • The Coca-Cola fonts including the swirly one, a very simple but bold label, and several others
  • Typewriter fonts often used in Indie and “literary” movies
  • The unique numeral fonts used on watches by Seiko, Tag Heuer, Timex, Casio, and most others
  • The Bell font that was designed for and used in phone books back in the old days of print and chosen because it looked clear at small sizes and used less ink
  • The font
  • The Google font
  • Fonts matching elementary and advanced printing and writing systems
  • Fonts used by major greeting card companies
  • Fonts used by shopping malls, gas stations, government offices in various locales, and cigarette danger warnings

And then the two dozen fonts — mostly nonstandard hand-printed ones — that I use in my mind maps to establish a personal style and project creativity and organized chaos and at times fun, seriousness, childhood, absurdity, and authority.

Fonts are a huge design element often overlooked in designing mind maps. In addition to having more or less clarity, they can project seriousness, friendliness, anger, laughter, fun, excitement, love, the old (early fonts from early printing presses, typewriters, historical documents like the US and French Constitutions, World War II posters, old bar signs), road signs in the USA, international road signs, passports, scanners, bank numerals, individual characteristics (such as fonts based on the handwriting or printing of Freud, Leonardo, Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams, Middle Age monks, Frank Lloyd Wright, Einstein), and those evocative of The Old West, the 1800s, the Great Depression, various wars, the 1920s, the 1930s in Germany, the 1960s, the 1970s, and the ubiquitous smiling, frowning, angry, joyous, clueless, and cool yellow dots invented by Forrest Gump 🙂 while he was jogging for a few years. Gump of course also invented the phrase “shit happens” in the same scene from the movie, but that is a separate story.

I’m not here to teach a class in font selection as there are numerous books on the topic.

Realize however, that matching fonts to other design elements in a mind map as well as its content and audience and images can greatly increase the effect of the map on encoding, retention, brainstorming, creativity, and communication.

Here are some examples of the same mind map in various font and color combinations. Not only are some more or less “readable,” they also at times evoke different emotions, motivations, and reactions.

When I create mind maps I usually write the title and a few branches in a default simple font like Arial and then try as many as dozen variations before selecting one that most matches my intent for the map. As I near the end, I then go back and look at the earlier and various other alternatives before settling on a final font.

Font selections are very important. The font can draw your attention before you read the words. Or bore you once again and curb your enthusiasm.

Changing the fonts in the mind map is the easiest way to change its appearance and to make it more readable and understandable to  various audiences.

Click on mind maps to expand their size. At the bottom of the individual maps — differing only in the font — are the same maps presented as a self running slide show.

fonts in mind maps 1 fonts in mind maps 2 fonts in mind maps 3 fonts in mind maps 4 fonts in mind maps 5 fonts in mind maps 6 fonts in mind maps 7


fonts in mind maps 10

fonts in mind maps 11

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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.

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.


I started this blog in the Fall of 2012. At the time I began, I was looking for something intellectual to do in retirement, wanted to talk about what I had learned over 35 years of evaluating health and social programs, and wanted to present many of my thoughts in mind maps.

And I had a hidden agenda.

In late 2009 I had been diagnosed preliminarily as having a neurodegenerative disease, probably progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) or frontotemporal dementia (FTD); this was formalized in early 2010.  In the years since my initial diagnosis, both working original diagnoses have been put in a related category of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with a number of other neurodegenerative diseases.My own dementia exhibits features of several of the FTLD disorders, something reported by both my own neurologist and a number of peer-reviewed publications as a common occurrence.

Over the years,I blogged, I spouted off about inequities and the denial of basic human rights. There was interest and my related Twitter following skyrocketed as I retweeted and commented about health-related issues and introduced the posts appearing on my blog.

I did not disclose that I had neurodegenerative disease and had progressed into dementia. I did not disclose that I had great difficulty writing without the mind maps and other visual thinking methods to support the generation of words. I did not disclose that I had neurodegenerative disorder for two reasons. First, I simply was not ready to disclose this for my own sake and that of my family. Second, as a psychologist, I was curious to see if anything would change when readers realized that I was writing while having the dreaded Big D that most readers equated with total mental disintegration and Alzheimer’s in its very advanced stages.

I kept plugging along at about 20 posts a month and gaining several thousand Twitter followers each month who also receive regular updates about my blog posts.

At the beginning of 2015 I started to write about my neurological problems, diagnosis, and what I felt and how I perceived things. I started to emphasize that my prior writings about mind mapping in a theoretical way designed to illustrate a useful tool were in fact descriptions of how the blog was written and how the methods helped me.

My hypothesis that some professionals who had regularly retweeted my work before the disclosure of dementia would stop doing so after I disclosed my medical status. I understand that as many may be concerned with identifying with my positions. That’s OK, my ideas are no more or less valid than they were in 2014 in the absence of compelling empirical studies. A lot of individuals with dementia and their caregivers as well as healthcare providers have at the same time discovered my work and provided feedback that the information and methods are useful to them.

Had you asked me 2012 what I expected for the blog I would have estimated 100-200 posts in total and that by 2016 I would either be dead or “cognitively dead.” I believe that neither is true and that I have many hundreds of posts left. I am aiming for 1000 before before I stop. Because of the acts of producing the blog, and the support of the blogging and tweeting communities, and critical visual thinking tools pioneered by Buzan, Rohde, and others, I think I might hit that goal and I feel calmer and more centered and more productive than I did in November 2011 when I retired. My focus is now more narrow and I am channeling my energy into talking about what what I have learned about the experience of dementia and how to use tools that might allow you to live well with dementia.

The most important thing I have learned since 2012 is that you can live well WITH dementia if you can force yourself to stop denying the dementia or fighting to be like you were before dementia and instead focus on the reality of dementia and how to live the most productive, joyful, and useful way possible during that stage of life. Life does not stop at dementia if you acknowledge it, change how you approach life a little, and then go ahead and enjoy all the good things available to you.

The methods I present in this blog are revolutionary and evolutionary. While many claim to have invented or otherwise codified the pretty pictures of mind mapping, none have developed systematic ways of presenting, communicating, and understand healthcare and medical information that can be productively used by patients, caregivers, and care providers of many types. Along the way, I have modified a number of the methods (especially by greatly extending, clarifying, and revising the work of Buzan and correcting many mistakes) based not only on my experiences as a psychologist with dementia who has studied literally hundreds of healthcare facilities over three decades, but also as one who has studied cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, especially in the past five years.

As usual, here is a mind map. Please click on the image to expand it.


The presentation contains a random assortment of images from the blog. These images are the best way I know to communicate knowledge in a way that is accessible to most.

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I have written a lot about techniques for maintaining or even improving your quality of life while you have a neurodegenerative disease or another condition causing dementia.

Ok, if for some reason or the other, you find that you are living a pretty good life of pretty good quality because you have been learning cognitive and behavioral methods to cope, there are lots of other things you can do. What are you going to do with all of that time? Here are a few suggestions in the form of a mind map. Click the image to expand it.

Living Well with Dementia Suggestions for Use of Your Time


The same mind map is shown as a presentation next. You can simply watch it with the automatic changing of slides or if you tap the pause button in the presentation you can use the right and left arrow keys to go through the slides at your own speed.

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While you still can do things for yourself, you should try to minimize the burden your dementia places on your family caregivers and those hired to help. No unnecessary requests. Caregivers are there to help you with your care, not be a maid, servant, counselor, whipping post, target for frustration, psychotherapist, or camp director. If you can still do it, make your bed and your breakfast and schedule your day instead of expecting someone to do this for you while you watch the morning talk shows or endless reruns of I Love Lucy or Star Trek. Appreciate caregivers, value them, thank them, help them. Later you won’t be able to help so much but they will know that you have always tried to be as a little of a burden on them as was possible.

Get ready for the later stages of dementia. At the present time you cannot stop the progression of dementia although you can certainly prepare for things to finally get worse.

Take advantage of neuroplasticity, the way the brain will rewire itself if there is outside stimulation. Organize yourself better getting boxes of photos and other life memories together. Try to learn to do new things that will help you better deal with the later stages of dementia. You will be surprised to find how the simple step of improving your handwriting will improve your quality of life later as you become more and more dependent upon sticky notes to yourself and others. Try to be creative with art or music or just continue to use your time experiencing new movies, museums, and restaurants. Organizing, learning, being creative — all of these activities may help you help your brain to make itself adapted to working around your dementia, although it is quite likely that adaptation will not occur for many. But if not, you may still find some of these activities enjoyable and you will be giving your caregiver a break from being the cruise boat director so it is still a winning situation.

Use the “good” time you have now to make the upcoming “bad” times better. The dementia is not going to stop without new medications or other emerging new medical procedures, but you can change how you feel about your life and interact with others for the better. And, you can make the life of your caregivers better in the future by learning ways to “help yourself” now. Your daughter or partner or son or siblings never signed on to put their own lives on hold for you. Try to minimize the amount you will be forced to ask them to help by using time during the early stages of dementia to be more self sufficient later.

You can do this. A lot of it can be fun or a way of realizing that you can still do things after a diagnosis and you can still do many of them well and learn new things.

You can do this.


Think you have a million of those sticky notes on your computer monitor, office wall, idiotic memos, email you printed out as well as in your wallet, pockets, and stuck on file cabinets.

About a “million” is nothing. Wait until you have aging memory or neurocognitive impairment (MCI, dementia). You will be buying more sticky notes every time you get near a Big Box office supply store.

Think you are going to keep all of the reminders you write yourself all day by typing them into an electronic device? Uh huh. I’ve started down that track many many many times in the past 35 years starting with the very first Palm Pilot that came on the market and progressing through an iPaq (yup, the spelling is correct), the Treo smart phone, Blackberries, the iPhone, the iPad, and a dozen different kinds of laptop and notebook computers.

I confess. I failed. Every time I tried.

I ended up with those damn sticky notes and file cards. At least now I take pictures of the sticky notes with my iPhone and upload them to Evernote and (Apple) Photos where I never can find them again.

Now sadly it comes down to that problem of legible handwriting. If I can’t read the note 10 minutes later, it didn’t happen. Used to be I could remember what I wrote on the note. Now … well why do you think I wrote the note? There is no memory backup if you cannot read your own handwriting.

Legibility. Come on, how many of your friends write legible printing or cursive handwriting? Do you? Can you do it quickly?

I started using fountain pens and LARGE cursive writing a couple of years ago and it helped but there were still a lot of notes that I have to guess at words which is pretty silly because I wrote them. It might be a joke in the office to say “I can’t read my own handwriting,” but it is not funny at all if the only way you can remember what to buy at the grocery store is from a handwritten note.

Italic handwriting is super fast and almost invariably legible. It takes 1-2 hours to learn and practice. That’s it. Works with ballpoint pens, pencils, fountain pens, and I suspect crayons although I have yet to formally test crayons (one of the kids “borrowed” my crayons off my home office desk).

You can start to learn italic handwriting from this very short article in the New York Times and a few charts you will find scattered around the Internet. Yes, really. TWO hours. For definitive books, search for Getty and Dubay and buy their book on adult handwriting.

Learn this method of handwriting and when you get old and your memory is going, you will at least be able to read the memory notes you wrote for yourself, family, caregivers, and healthcare providers.

Click the mind maps to expand them.

Italic HandwritingHandwriting Tools





remaining examples all fountain pen (different pens)


Special note: If you want a computer font to use in various graphic application programs, take a look at Sketchnote Italic by designer (and sketchnote father) Mike Rohde. This font is the best match I have found to Italic Printing and is exceptionally clear and “memorable.” It also has the property of looking “relaxed” and may be less stressful for those reminders you really don’t want to remember. Mike’s font is the one used in the mind maps above.

Rohde’s books on Sketchnoting are highly recommended as definitive sources for combining printed handwriting and small “doodle-like” graphics to enhance understanding and memory. These should be on the must-read list for anyone using handwritten notes.



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.

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.

People with Dementia who blog, write, speak at events for healthcare providers and caregivers, or tweet can be a powerful force for improving public and professional understanding of dementia.

While I was trained as a psychologist and other bloggers with dementia also have advanced healthcare degrees and experience (@KateSwaffer of Australia comes immediately to mind), many truly excellent bloggers talking about their own experience have little experience in healthcare, social care, or research.

Personally, I wish that there was someone who would look over my blog posts to ensure that they medically accurate, use the names of pharmaceuticals and diagnoses correctly in accordance with current terminology, and reflect mainstream positions.

If some advanced medical students, advanced psychology and social work graduate students, advanced practice nursing students, and others were available to quickly review short blog posts, the information going from people with dementia to others (including both other people with dementia, healthcare providers, and caregivers) could be greatly improved.

Rewriting is not needed. Simple fact checking is. Blog posts are usually short, and probably some simple fact checking could be done in five minutes or less. And yes, a waiver should be signed so no volunteer can be sued.

A suggestion. I do not have the energy to make this work, nor the appropriate expertise. I would love to see someone take this on as a project.



Most people carry around a lot of assumptions about what other people should be able to do.

We typically assume that if you can write a blog post you can tie your shoes or feed yourself ice cream.

Or that if you cannot remember names or understand a simple conversation you cannot mind map. Or that if you can mind map you must obviously be able to make a decision about what clothes to pack for a two night trip.

Well … I can do a pretty complicated — and I think fairly creative — mind map in an hour or two that illustrates a pretty good conceptual understanding of scientific, psychological, or emotional material. I takes me two FULL days of high anxiety to pack a suitcase for a short trip and I often arrive with clothing unsuited for the intent of the trip or the weather. I remember a lot of multivariate statistics and probably could still analyze a complicated BIG DATA set, but have had times when I had to do Google searches to spell arithmetic correctly.

Doesn’t make any sense except to a skilled neurologist. And every person with dementia is different and every disease that results in dementia is different. And sometimes you can do things in the mornings that you cannot do later in the day.

Don’t let your perceptions and assumptions stereotype people with dementia. We can — depending upon the specific person — do a lot of things you believe we cannot do because we leave a shirt buttoned and pull it on over the head since buttons are too frustrating. And just because I can make a mind map does not mean I can button my shirt or make it clear to a server what I want for lunch.

Go figure.

I can however remember how to eat ice cream with a spoon. And I am pretty sure I will never lose that knowledge. But I am writing complete instructions for myself just in case I cannot figure it out in the future. Some things are too important to leave to chance.

Click on the image to expand it.


One of the basic needs for humans is communication. Express yourself.

What happens when one or more of the basic tools of communicating (memory, speech, writing, vocabulary) goes down. You adjust. Express yourself and you feel better, live better, and help others live better. Worth a few hours to learn how to do this in many ways.

Click on the image to zoom in.


I am going to present a series of mind maps with advice about how to prepare for possible cognitive decline.

GYST!!!!! (sounds like gist)

If you take my advice, give yourself a GMST (sounds like jimst) star.

Confused? Hopefully you are confused enough to study this mind map.

Then look at my next few posts and GYST so that you can say GMST.

[This post is an example of the “odd” sense of humor that can accompany dementia especially in the earlier stages. Personally it sounds pretty funny to me and I see it as a conceptual summary of Benjamin Franklin’s famous essay. But then again, I’m there. Hopefully before you face possible cognitive decline you will be able to say GMST and use modern technology and advances in the theory of visual thinking to deal with cognitive impairment and dementia, should you be unlucky enough to have to do so. GMST will help you be able to say “I have a good life” even if the Big D hits.]

[15 minutes later … I had been trying to recall from my memory the term for the symptom of odd humor. 1 minute ago it just popped into my head. FATUOUS speech and writing meaning silly and pointless. Aaahhh heck. That is just a sign of typical aging at least as defined by those under 40.]


<<<<<=== Over there on the left. Click on one of the book icons to obtain my new book Mind Mapping, Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia. Versions are available for Apple devices on the iBooks store and all other common devices on the Amazon Kindle store. There are 100s of essays like that in this blog post. And because I know the information is unique and valuable, I am charging about the same as others who write books on dementia or mind mapping. If you cannot afford to purchase the book, contact me.

Yeah, I know, shameless self promotion. How else do you expect me to get the message out about the “real issues” in dementia care and some very low cost methods of assistance that may help some (or many) and potentially increase the period of independence and get away from stacking people up in hospital beds where their lives become very limited. As someone who lives with the problems I describe, I only have a limited period of time left for my brain to function well enough to get the message out, and I am going to use it as effectively as possible to make my messages stick in the minds of people with dementia, caregivers, family, healthcare providers, decision makers, those aging, those with other types of cognitive impairment, and other interested parties. Expect more shameless self promotion. Doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I am kind of proud of the fact that I want to shake up and expand your conception of what the problems are and what are some possible solutions most have never even considered.

Let’s do this together.