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The Independent Culture
There was a time when people did not think very much of the human brain. If you wanted to admire that grey spaghetti-like bundle of nerves you had to make do with the opening credits of Tomorrow's World once a week. Then George Bush declared the Nineties the decade of the brain and now they're everywhere: private health campaigns, computer ads, even Stephen Hawking has become a BT mascot. The last thing you can afford these days is a brain which doesn't quite match up.

Fortunately Mind Mapping has arrived. Developed by brain expert Tony Buzan, Mind Maps are said to unleash hitherto dormant powers of memory by changing the way we assimilate information. Instead of note-taking, Buzan gets people to draw maps. Where they differ from the average city A-Z is that Buzan's work is based on recent scientific research about the way the brain remembers through association. Complex sequences of information are recalled by relating them to visually exciting imagined journeys. The conductor of the Boston Philharmonic did a Mind Map of 'the creation theme within Beethoven's ninth symphony' - the rest of us could content ourselves with a fancy shopping list.

'It's not a New Age thing, but a practical way of improving your life,' explains Helen Whitten, one of a handful of Buzan-trained Mind Mappers in the country. Besides ambitious company managers, one of her clients works at Surrey County Council. Residents of Leatherhead and Chertsey should perhaps look out for brightly coloured Mind Maps of M25 toll proposals in their local libraries.

Helen Whitten gives workshops in Richmond on 19, 20 Feb (081-332 2845). Further information from The Buzan Centre (0202 533593)

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