Posted by: wordsmithsuk | May 17, 2010

How Mind Maps make fuller use of your brain’s associative powers

Today I want to explore two important facts about the brain:
1. It is far bigger than most people ever imagine
2. It works by association.

In the human brain there are something like ten billion (a million million) neurons or brain cells; that’s as many as there are stars in the Milky Way. The capacity of human brain is so vast that no-one has ever – and most probably will never – be able to harness it completely. The fact is that the potential of human beings to process information, to analyse facts and figures, to remember things, to think logically, to create new ideas is infinitely greater than most of us have ever imagined. Mind Mapping is one way in which you can achieve the fantastic potential of your brain.

Every time you have a thought or an idea, a message is sent along a pathway that connects hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of neurons. At any one time there may be hundreds of millions of impulses flashing around the brain, each one travelling along a known pathway or creating a new one. Your brain can make an infinite number of memory traces – and the more connections it makes, the more connections it is able to make in the future.

So – the brain has an enormous potential and that it works by making connections. Every word, idea, image, taste, touch or smell that pops into your brain triggers off a pathway of associations connecting it with other words, ideas and images.
Have you noticed how sometimes you remember something that you thought you had forgotten? This is because a piece of data entering your brain has triggered off a trail of connections that took you back to that idea. Are you sometimes surprised when you have some insight that has never dawned on you before? This happens when you are able to connect some new information with something that you have known for some time.

When your brain is presented with an idea, a taste, and image and so on, it is capable of making tens, hundreds or tens of thousands of connections. These are unique to you because they are based on your life experiences and your perceptions.

Mind Map of the Mummy of HornedjitefOne of the great advantages of MInd Maps is that they allow us to make full use of our brains’ associative powers. Look at this Mind Map I created while I was listening to a radio programme about the mummy of Hornedjitef. Notice three ways in which I have used lines to make associations:

1. The flow of associations – this is where I have shown how one idea links to next and the next and so on. Here I have drawn some lines one after another in a flow (so we see coffin links to inner links to decoration links to maps)
2. The bloom of association – this is where I show how one idea links to more than one other idea. Here the line splits into two or more lines (thus objects links to useful and valuable)
3. I have linked different parts of the Mind Map with pink arrows around the periphery of the Map.

Mind Maps allow us to put together words and pictures that are closely linked – this results in the clustering of ideas into separate themes; the process reinforces the memory, helps us to analyse and order facts and and makes it easier to think creatively. In short, something magical happens when you create a Mind Map. What’s your experience?

Want to learn more about how to create fantastic Mind Maps? Email Nick ( ) and ask for a copy of our free ebook ‘Mind Mapping for Success’.



  1. […] How Mind Maps Make Fuller Use of Your Brain’s Associative Powers – Word Smiths […]

  2. Our graduate students in Taiwan are learning how to mind map for attending international conferences and publish in international journals. So your articles are very helpful.

  3. […] Related articles How Mind Maps Make Fuller Use of Your Brain’s Associative Powers – Word Smiths […]

  4. […] How Mind Maps Make Fuller Use of Your Brain’s Associative Powers – Word Smiths […]

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