A mind map is a diagram used to visually outline information. A mind map is often created around a single word or text, placed in the center, to which associated ideas, words and concepts are added. Major categories radiate from a central node, and lesser categories are sub-branches of larger branches. Categories can represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items related to a central key word or idea.
Mind maps can be drawn by hand, either as "rough notes" during a lecture or meeting, for example, or as higher quality pictures when more time is available. An example of a rough mind map is illustrated.
Diagrams that visually map information using branching and radial maps trace back centuries. These pictorial methods record knowledge and model systems, and a long history in learning, brainstorming, memory, visual thinking, and problem solving by educators, engineers, psychologists, and others. Some of the earliest examples of such graphical records were developed by Porphyry of Tyros, a noted thinker of the 3rd century, as he graphically visualized the concept categories of Aristotle. Philosopher Ramon Llull (1235–1315) also used such techniques.
Popularization of the term "mind map" 
The term "mind map" was first popularized by British popular psychology author and television personality Tony Buzan when BBC TV ran a series hosted by Buzan called Use Your Head. In this show, and companion book series, Buzan enthusiastically promoted his conception of radial tree, diagramming key words in a colorful, radiant, tree-like structure.
Buzan says the idea was inspired by Alfred Korzybski's general semantics as popularized in science fiction novels, such as those of Robert A. Heinlein and A.E. van Vogt. Buzan argues that while "traditional" outlines force readers to scan left to right and top to bottom, readers actually tend to scan the entire page in a non-linear fashion. Buzan also uses popular assumptions about the cerebral hemispheres in order to promote the exclusive use of mind mapping over other forms of note making.
When compared with the concept map (which was developed by learning experts in the 1970s) the structure of a mind map is a similar radial, but is simplified by having one central key word.
Mind map guidelines 
Buzan suggests the following guidelines for creating mind maps:
- Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.
- Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map.
- Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
- Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
- The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
- Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
- Use multiple colors throughout the mind map, for visual stimulation and also to encode or group.
- Develop your own personal style of mind mapping.
- Use emphasis and show associations in your mind map.
- Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.
This list is itself more concise than a prose version of the same information and the mind map of these guidelines is itself intended to be more memorable and quicker to scan than either the prose or the list.
As with other diagramming tools, mind maps can be used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.
Mind maps have many applications in personal, family, educational, and business situations, including notetaking, brainstorming (wherein ideas are inserted into the map radially around the center node, without the implicit prioritization that comes from hierarchy or sequential arrangements, and wherein grouping and organizing is reserved for later stages), summarizing, as a mnemonic technique, or to sort out a complicated idea. Mind maps are also promoted as a way to collaborate in color pen creativity sessions.
Mind maps can be used for:
- problem solving
- outline/framework design
- structure/relationship representations
- anonymous collaboration
- marriage of words and visuals
- individual expression of creativity
- condensing material into a concise and memorable format
- team building or synergy creating activity
- enhancing work morale
In addition to these direct use cases, data retrieved from mind maps can be used to enhance several other applications, for instance expert search systems, search engines and search and tag query recommender. To do so, mind maps can be analysed with classic methods of information retrieval to classify a mind map's author or documents that are linked from within the mind map.
Differences from other visualizations 
- Concept maps - Mind maps differ from concept maps in that mind maps focus on only one word or idea, whereas concept maps connect multiple words or ideas. Also, concept maps typically have text labels on their connecting lines/arms. Mind maps are based on radial hierarchies and tree structures denoting relationships with a central governing concept, whereas concept maps are based on connections between concepts in more diverse patterns. However, either can be part of a larger personal knowledge base system.
- Modelling graphs - There is no rigorous right or wrong with mind maps, relying on the arbitrariness of mnemonic systems. A UML diagram or a semantic network has structured elements modelling relationships, with lines connecting objects to indicate relationship. This is generally done in black and white with a clear and agreed iconography. Mind maps serve a different purpose: they help with memory and organization. Mind maps are collections of words structured by the mental context of the author with visual mnemonics, and, through the use of colour, icons and visual links, are informal and necessary to the proper functioning of the mind map.
Farrand, Hussain, and Hennessy (2002) found that spider diagrams (similar to concept maps) had limited, but significant, impact on memory recall in undergraduate students (a 10% increase over baseline for a 600-word text only) as compared to preferred study methods (a 6% increase over baseline). This improvement was only robust after a week for those in the diagram group and there was a significant decrease in motivation compared to the subjects' preferred methods of note taking. Farrand et al. suggested that learners preferred to use other methods because using a mind map was an unfamiliar technique, and its status as a "memory enhancing" technique engendered reluctance to apply it. Nevertheless the conclusion of the study was "Mind maps provide an effective study technique when applied to written material. However before mind maps are generally adopted as a study technique, consideration has to be given towards ways of improving motivation amongst users."
Pressley, VanEtten, Yokoi, Freebern, and VanMeter (1998) found that learners tended to learn far better by focusing on the content of learning material rather than worrying over any one particular form of note taking.
Hemispheric specialization theory has been identified as pseudoscientific when applied to mind mapping.
Mind mapping software can be used to organize large amounts of information, combining spatial organization, dynamic hierarchical structuring and node folding. Software packages can extend the concept of mind mapping by allowing individuals to map more than thoughts and ideas with information on their computers and the internet, like spreadsheets, documents, internet sites and images.
MindMap generation from Natural Language 
In 2009, Mohamed Elhoseiny et al.  presented the first prototype that can generate MindMap out of small text to fit in a single screen. In 2012, he extended that into a more scalable system that can generate MindMaps from Larger text.
The phrase "mind map" is trademarked by Buzan's company for the specific use for self-improvement educational courses. and the United States. The trademark does not appear in the records of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
See also 
- Related diagrams
- Argument map
- Cognitive map
- Concept map
- Radial tree
- Rhizome (philosophy)
- Semantic network
- Social map
- Tree structure
- Mind Maps as Classroom Exercises John W. Budd The Journal of Economic Education , Vol. 35, No. 1 (Winter, 2004), pp. 35-46 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30042572
- Buzan, Tony 1974. Use your head. London: BBC Books.
- Buzan claims mind mapping his invention in interview. KnowledgeBoard retrieved Jan. 2010.
- 'Mind maps as active learning tools', by Willis, CL. Journal of computing sciences in colleges. ISSN: 1937-4771. 2006. Volume: 21 Issue: 4
- Beel, Jöran; Gipp, Bela; Stiller, Jan-Olaf (2009). "Information Retrieval On Mind Maps - What Could It Be Good For?". Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Collaborative Computing: Networking, Applications and Worksharing (CollaborateCom'09). Washington: IEEE. -->
- Farrand, P.; Hussain, F.; Hennessy, E. (2002). "The efficacy of the mind map study technique". Medical Education 36 (5): 426–431. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2923.2002.01205.x. PMID 12028392. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
- Pressley, M., VanEtten, S., Yokoi, L., Freebern, G., & VanMeter, P. (1998). "The metacognition of college studentship: A grounded theory approach". In: D.J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A.C. Graesser (Eds.), Metacognition in Theory and Practice (pp. 347-367). Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum ISBN 978-0-8058-2481-0
- Williams (2000) Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. Facts on file. ISBN 978-0-8160-3351-5
- Asmaa Hamdy, Mohamed H. ElHoseiny, Radwa Elsahn, Eslam Kamal, Mind Map Automation (MMA) System. SWWS, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA , 2009.
- Mohamed H.ElHoseiny, Ahmed Elgammal, English2MindMap: Automated system for Mind Map generation from Text, International Symposium of Multimedia, 2012
- Trade Mark 1424476, UK Intellectual Property Office, filed Nov. 1990
- US Trademark, USPTO Trademark Application and Registration Retrieval system
- Canadian Intellectual Property Office
Further reading 
- Novak, J.D. (1993), "How do we learn our lesson?: Taking students through the process". The Science Teacher, 60(3), 50-55 (ISSN 0036-8555)