Brainstorming Images


• The power of images t Mini-Mind Map image exercise


This chapter discusses recent brain research which has astounded experts around the world. Together with the practical exercises described here, this knowledge will enable you to access the vast store of imaginative skills that lie dormant in 95 per cent of the population.


fin 1970 Scientific American magazine published the results of a fascinating experiment carried out by Ralph Haber. Haber had shown his subjects a series of 2560 photographic slides, presenting one image every 10 seconds. It took approximately 7 hours for the subjects to view all the slides, but this viewing time was divided into separate sessions over a period of several days. An hour after the last slide had been shown, the subjects were tested for recognition.

Each person was shown 2560 pairs of slides, in which one slide came from the series they had seen, while the other came from a similar set which they had not seen. On average, the accuracy of their recognition was between 85 and 95 per cent.

Having confirmed the unrivalled accuracy of the brain as a receiving, holding

OPPOSITE: Natural Architecture Plate 9 71

and recalling mechanism, Haber carried out a second experiment to check the brain's ability to recognise at speed. In this experiment one slide was shown every second.

The results were identical, indicating that not only does the brain have an extraordinary capacity to imprint and recall, but that it can do so, with no loss of accuracy, at incredibly high speeds.

To test the brain even further, Haber conducted a third experiment in which slides were still presented at the rate of one per second but were all shown as mirror images. Again, the results were identical, indicating that even at high speeds the brain can juggle images in three-dimensional space with no loss of efficiency.

Haber commented: 'These experiments with visual stimuli suggest that RECOGNITION OF PICTURES IS ESSENTIALLY PERFECT. The results would probably have been the same if we had used 25 000 pictures instead of 2500.'

f Another researcher, R. S. Nickerson, reported in the Canadian Journal of Psychology the results of experiments in which each subject was presented with 600 pictures at the rate of one per second. When tested for recognition immediately after the presentation, average accuracy was 98 per cent!

Like Haber, Nickerson expanded on his research, increasing the number of pictures from 600 to 10 000. Significantly, Nickerson emphasised that each of his 10 000 pictures were 'vivid' (i.e. striking, memorable images like the ones used in Mind Maps).

With the vivid pictures, subjects achieved a recognition accuracy rate of 99.9 per cent. Allowing for some degree of boredom and exhaustion, Nickerson and his colleagues estimated that had their subjects been shown a million pictures, rather than 10 000, they would have recognised 986 300 - an accuracy rate of 98.6 per cent.

In his article 'Learning 10 000 Pictures' in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Lionel Standing commented that 'the capacity of recognition memory for pictures is almost limitless!'

The reason why, to quote the old adage, pictures are 'worth a thousand words'

is that they make use of a massive range of cortical skills: colour, form, line, dimension, texture, visual rhythm, and especially ¿raa.gination - a word taken from the Latin imaginary literally meaning 'to picture mentally'.

Images are therefore often more evocative than words, more precise and potent in triggering a wide range of associations, thereby enhancing creative thinking and memory. This shows how ludicrous it is that over 95 per cent of note-taking/making is done without the benefit of images.

The reason for this rejection of the image is partly our modern over-emphasis on the word as the primary vehicle of information. However it may also be due to many people's (mistaken) belief that they are incapable of creating images.

Over the last 30 years we and others, including the artists Dr Betty Edwards and Lorraine Gill, have surveyed opinion in this area. In these experiments as many as 25 per cent of subjects said they had no visualisation capability, and more than 90 per cent believed they had a genetic inability to draw or paint in any way. Further research has shown that anyone with a 'normal' brain (i.e. not genetically or physically damaged) can learn to draw to good art school level (see below).

Oft) »17 vi left: Best artistic effort of dominantly right-handed author using right hand. right: Best artistic effort of author two hours later, after training, using left hand.

The reason why so many people assume that they are incapable of creating images is that, instead of understanding that the brain always succeeds through continued experimentation, they mistake initial failure for fundamental incapacity and as its true measure of their talent. They therefore leave to wither and die a mental skill which could have flourished naturally.

t In his book Ghosts in the Mind's Machine, S. M. Kosslyn states that 'in most of our imagery experiments people definitely improve with practice'.

Mind Mapping reawakens this exceptional visualising capacity. Where the brain develops its ability to image, so it develops its thinking capacity, its perceptual abilities, its memory, its creativity, and its confidence.

Two widespread and damaging beliefs have led to the modern rejection of our visualising skills:

X That images and colours are somehow primitive, childish, immature and irrelevant.

^ That the power to create and reproduce images is a god-given talent dispensed to a tiny minority. (It is in fact a god-given talent bestowed on everyone!)

With a more complete understanding of the human brain, we are beginning to realise that a new balance must be established between the skills of the image and those of the word. In the computer industry this is reflected in the increasing development of machines that allow us to link and manipulate words and images together. On the personal level it has given rise to the Mind Map.

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave several of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce and check off items on our to-do list by each day’s end seems to decide the direction and quality of our existence for us.

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