Did You Know?

Two Tools for Your Brain Toolbox

Two powerful tools for keeping your brain fit are making notes and memorising them through the use of

  • Keywords
  • Brain Branch Diagrams

Keeping your brain fit through Keywords

If you are learning about something that involves new information you can help your memory store the information by using Keywords.

Practical Exercise

Choose a passage of text you have been reading. You will need

  • highlighters
  • a blank sheet of paper
  • coloured pens

1. Read the text you want to make notes on
2. Note the Primary Keywords i.e. the most important words in understanding the text. – you may get a clue from a paragraph heading
3. Highlight the Primary Keywords in one colour in the paragraph
4. Note the Secondary Keywords – usually nouns that convey key information
5. Highlight the Secondary Keywords in a different colour.
6. On a blank sheet of paper put the Primary Keywords at the top of the page in the same colour as the highlighter in the text
7. Write the Secondary Keywords below Primary Keywords in the same colour as the highlighter in the text. You can add more brief notes below these.
8. Draw lines between the Primary Keywords and the Secondary Keywords
9. See if you can create a mnemonic of some kind using the Primary Keyword first and then the Secondary keywords in order.

Keeping your brain fit through Brain Branch Diagrams

This is a powerful tool for using your memory when you are learning. It was developed by Tony Buzan as Mindmapping. Part of its power lies in the ways it mirrors the ‘branching’ of the brain.

It is use your memory in four ways:

  • Visual (Using colour and symbols)
  • Verbal (Using Keywords)
  • Procedural (as you draw the branches)
  • Spatial (branches are always in the same place on the page).

It uses two powerful tools of memory:

  • Association
  • Imagination

The most important thing about a brain branch diagram is that it is your own design. Some people find this difficult and want to know how to do it ‘right’! But there is no ‘right’ way – only your way! Left brain dominant people will probably prefer to link lists of Keywords on a page and have difficulty with mind maps for this reason.

The very act of creating it in your way will already store the brain branches in your short term memory. If you repeat it exactly the same ways on the pages – colours, spatial position, words and symbols – every time you draw, it you will find it easier to recall.

If you do it shortly after learning the information, repeat it a day later, then twice in the next week you will find it hard to forget! This is how to get it into your long-term memory.

Once you get the hang of it you can use this method for remembering all kinds of things.

Recommended reading - Mind maps for Kids ISBN 0-00-774385-8