FOR over 40 years, Professor Tony Buzan, the original inventor of Mind Maps and an international bestselling author, has been travelling around the world teaching people how to think better and more creatively by activating their brain skills.

In delivering a lecture in Singapore about how we could use our brain effectively, he said: “When you buy a computer, it comes with a user manual. Before you start using a washing machine, it is better to run through the operations manual to see how to use the machine features.

“However, there is no manual to teach us how to use our brains when we are born — despite the fact that our brains are so much more powerful and feature-rich than any other machines in the world.”

If we desire to be knowledgeable and become effective thinkers, we really need to know how our brain works, how to develop it for our purpose and how to take good care of it.


Know how your brain works

In 1981, Dr Roger Sperry was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for his work with “split-brain” patients. The studies demonstrated that the left and right hemispheres of the brain are specialised in different tasks.

Our brain hemispheres perform a comprehensive range of intellectual tasks known as cortical skills. Dr Sperry found that the left side of the brain generally performs analytical and verbal tasks, while the right side has the cortical skills to appreciate music, identify colours and shapes and see the big picture. This right dominant side also takes care of imagination and daydreaming.

Dr Sperry also concluded that the more these activities were integrated, the more the brain’s performance became cooperative, with each intellectual skill enhancing the performance of other intellectual areas, thereby generating a synergistic effect of both the left and right sides of the brain.


How to develop your brain

Once you understand what your brain is capable of, you should explore further to see how to tap and activate these cortical skills for your benefit. Most importantly, you should try a “whole brain” approach that synergises all your brain skills together.

For instance, if you want to keep your body in shape, you cannot focus on training one specific muscle group. All muscle groups are interconnected and the power of a total workout involving all the muscles will help to shape your body in optimal overall proportions.

When you go for a body workout, you may need to use training apparatus such as weights or dumb-bells to exercise your muscles. Similarly, to keep your brain in shape, you can consider spending time on activities which help to exercise your cortical skills.

For instance, you can spend pockets of time playing brain teaser games like Sudoku, crossword puzzles, IQ quizzes and chess. It is better if the activity involves the cortical skills of the whole brain.

Mind mapping is a great tool for the brain to organise tasks, analyse issues, generate ideas and plan projects. When you mind-map regularly, you are practising visual thinking and exercising the fundamental memory powers and information.


Take care of your brain

It is of utmost importance to first take good care of your body, which is the host of your brain. With a healthy body, your brain gets the necessary nutrients and support system to perform at its prime. So, eat healthily and include good brain food such as salmon, blueberries, avocados, nuts and seeds in your diet. Start an exercise regime that suits your work schedule.

When your body is in good shape, you will find that your mind is clearer, and you can think better and faster. At this point, you are perfectly poised to achieve the lists of things you have set out to do.


Article by Eric Cheong, managing director of Brain Capital Group, a leading training and consulting company in Asia specialising in brain skills development. He has been an accredited senior instructor of Tony Buzan’s techniques in mind mapping, memory, speed reading, creative thinking and iMindMap software (master trainer) since 2006. For more information, e-mail or visit