How to learn anatomy using mind maps

"Many think that memory formation happens through memorization and by linearly cramming the brain full of facts where comprehension is completely irrelevant. But if you teach properly with imagination and associations, then understanding becomes a part of it. " – Tony Buzan, inventor of mind mapping.

If you like 99% Of the students you are, you are probably memorizing. In other words, you become Robot – you just mechanically repeat the information you need to learn. Learning this way is extremely easy, especially when it comes to a subject like anatomy, which is almost all about memorization. Most likely you will understand the topic quite easily. The main challenge, however, is getting all the long and confusing terms into your head. What seems to be the right solution for this? Open your anatomy book, begin an page to read, make some linear notes, revise it a bit and hope for the best. It’s definitely not the worst strategy, but you’ll be a lot of blood, Sweat and tears shed in the process .

If you don’t want to lose your mind while learning anatomy, you have to be the "unusual" one and make you feel the rest of the 1% of the students. Instead of turning off your brain and transcribing the author’s words and concepts in great detail, you process the information and organize them in a way that is for you meaningful Wise. In other words, create a Mind map of information and personalize your learning in a way you probably never thought possible before.

This article will explain to you what mind maps are, how they are created and how they can help manage your vast anatomical knowledge. Creative geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo and Albert Einstein used them all the time to work out their ideas, so mind maps will surely help you too.

What is a mind map?

How to learn anatomy using mind maps

A mind map is a organizational thinking tool – a kind of Swiss army knife of the brain. Just as the name implies, it is a map that shows the contents of your memory reflects. Michael Michalko, a renowned creative expert, has described the mind map as "the holistic alternative to linear thinking, extending in all directions and capturing thoughts from every angle.".

A mind map looks just like a map of a city. The main idea or the city center is in the middle of a. Main branches or main roads lead out of the city center and represent your main thoughts. Smaller, secondary thoughts branch out from the primary thoughts and so on. On some branches are pictures, symbols and Scribbles, to help you learn. Just like a city has interesting landmarks, buildings, and tourist attractions that are worth visiting and admiring.

The principle of mind maps is based on branched thinking, which is very similar to the way your brain works. It is easiest to visualize this idea using a Example to illustrate.

When you think of the Heart If you think of the heart, its position (enclosed by the pericardium in the thorax), its function (blood supply to the organism), the chambers (atria and ventricles) and its innervation (cardiac plexus) immediately appear in your mind’s eye. If you focus your attention only on the thoracic area, your thoughts will also branch out and you will imagine the lungs, the thoracic part of the aorta, the bony thorax, etc. you can then focus on one of these "smaller" ones Focus ideas or fall back on the previous one over the heart.

You surely understand the idea behind it now. New and old information are constantly linked to existing ones to create a map. The knowledge is like a spider web in your head organized, so that you can link seemingly unrelated topics together. This is how your brain thinks. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when you learn something, especially in a subject like anatomy. Access and expand your existing body of knowledge, making it as easy as possible for you to do so.

Mind maps are great, but even faster you can prepare for your next anatomy exam with our ready-made flashcards!

Why should you use mind maps?

I can almost hear you saying, "Wait a minute! Isn’t this just a fancy and time consuming way to write down information?" Not quite. The devil is in the details with this learning strategy and what seems like drawing pictures and lines actually has significant impact on your memory and can make learning easier.

Here are some ways mind maps can help you:

  • You recognize the big picture – A well-structured mind map gives you a clear overview of the main idea at the center of the page. The information is also presented hierarchically – the main idea is in the center and the secondary ones in the margin. That’s why you know at a glance what it’s all about!
  • You create associations and links – By creating the mind map, you start thinking associatively. You’re not only making connections between different pieces of information, but also between concepts and images, which makes your learning more vivid. The combination of associations and the big picture allow you to think in 3D, which is a critical skill for learning anatomy. Therefore, encode the information correctly, because you only reap what you sow!
  • Focus your pay attention – Don’t forget that we’re talking about anatomy, a subject that can drain you of all energy and where the slightest distraction can seem like a boon. Drawing, using illustrations and colors will help you really memorize the content. Learn more about the benefits of coloring in this Kenhub article.
  • filter information – A mind map consists only of key words. It contains the important concepts that will help you understand a concept that will come up in exams and that you will be able to remember for a long time. You’ll forget the details, so focus on what’s important!
  • The possibility actively repeat contents – Creating a mind map from memory, as opposed to coloring from an open book, makes all the difference. When you close the book, you’re essentially learning through active repetition, a crucial principle for boosting your learning performance.
  • Learning with a mind map is easy, funny, sometimes something other and in person.

How to make a mind map out of your ideas ?

Creating a mind map is a very intuitive process, because it maps what’s going on in your brain. In fact, the key is not the intention to follow a series of prescribed steps, but the ideas behind the mind map – they should flow naturally, depending on your imagination and the associations your brain creates.

Aspects you should consider in a mind map

Colors Use various Colors z.B. to distinguish different parts of the body from each other.
Illustrations illustrations or even sketches help to visualize and better memorize theoretical content.
lines Use curved and straight lines, for example, to better distinguish main and secondary topics.
Key words Use only single keywords!
Organization Branch out your ideas in descending order.

You can do mind maps too Electronic on your computer or your favorite portable device. So don’t worry if you can’t draw like Da Vinci. In fact, this is not necessary at all, since quick and simple sketches are enough to make an association.

In addition, anatomy has an amazing tool that students have a love-hate relationship with. It’s an atlas that can be the inspiration for all your anatomical drawings. Images for an electronic mind map can be taken, for example, from Kenhub’s Atlas, a collection of understandable and professional illustrations that cover all your needs.

Disadvantages of Mind Maps

Hopefully, you are now convinced that mind maps have the potential to help you learn anatomy. Before you jump in full of joy to elaborate your knowledge, it’s important to know that mind maps are just learning tools. You are quite sure not perfect. So don’t put all your eggs in one basket by using this method only.

Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Time spent – Despite the great benefits that mind maps offer, coloring, drawing, and organizing them can take a bit longer compared to other learning strategies. It’s best to try it out and find out for yourself, as it depends on your skills and preferences.
  • Space requirements – To create comprehensible mind maps that don’t require a magnifying glass, you’ll need a large workspace. A4 paper might work, but you may run out of room to expand the map. Ideally, you should use A2 format or larger. Alternatively, you can create your mind map on your computer. This gives you unlimited space and saves trees as well! :-)
  • Artistic skills – Let’s stay with reality. You can’t learn anatomy if your most nautical representation of a human is a stick figure. To learn the topics properly, you need to be able to visualize details. Otherwise, mind maps become merely outlines for you (still, outlines are not to be underestimated, especially in anatomy!).
  • Information accumulates – your mind maps can grow incredibly fast, especially if you draw them by hand. For example, the one shown above is only the proximal end of the humerus.. However, this bone has a shaft and a distal end. Not to mention all the potential mind maps you could create with every single word on this page (this is both good and bad). So there are many pages and files you need to create!

Despite some drawbacks, you are now familiar with a method to visually represent all your favorite Kenhub anatomy articles. The structure is so clear that it will be a piece of cake to create it!

Remember the important principle of active repetition mentioned above? After you have created your mind maps and learned them using active review, you can further test and solidify your knowledge with some quizzes. You will experience your blue miracle.

As you can see, mind maps are another potential learning strategy you can use to learn anatomy. As a Swiss army knife of memory, you can filter out the essential information, organize it logically, make associations, and have fun while doing it. Mind maps could be just what you need to stimulate your learning!


  • A mind map is a organizational thinking tool – a Swiss army knife of memory. Just as the name implies, it is a map that reflects the contents of your brain.
  • The principle of mind maps is associative thinking. Simply put, when you think of a topic, new and old information is constantly being linked to existing information to create a mind map. Knowledge is organized like a spider web in your mind, so you can link seemingly unrelated topics together.
  • Mind maps can help you in many ways: They can give you a General overview give, help you create associations, focus your attention on focus, the information on filter and the learning content actively repeat.
  • Creating a mind map is a very intuitive process. Just grab some colored pencils and branch out a central idea by drawing pictures and using key words.
  • However, mind maps also have some disadvantages. You need time, space and real artistic skills to use this learning strategy.

Literature sources

text, translation, review& Layout:

  • Adrian Rad
  • Juliana Walek
  • Claudia Bednarek
  • Nicole Gonzalez
  • ‘Personalize your learning’ photo – Photo credit: goldjiann via / CC BY-SA
  • ‘City’ photo – Photo credit: Trendsmap via Visualhunt / CC BY
  • Thinking and connecting ideas’ photo – Photo via VisualHunt
  • ‘Clutter’ photo – Photo credit: Kris Krug via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

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