Educational consultant who created the Mind Map learning technique

Born: June 2, 1942;

Died: April 13, 2019

TONY Buzan, who has died aged 76, was an educational consultant and leading authority on the brain who created the mind map technique, a popular tool to improve memory and learning.

The technique – which Buzan once described as like a Swiss army knife for the brain – uses seemingly complicated illustrations to encourage creative thinking and improve the memory. The mind map is usually a number of ideas linked to a central concept. The theory is that the maps are a reflection on paper of the brain's internal thought processes and therefore make it easier to grasp information and memorise facts.

Born in Palmers Green in London, Buzan said he first noticed while still at school that some people could be intelligent but not necessarily do well in traditional exams. When he was 12, the family moved to Vancouver in Canada where Buzan excelled in school sports.

He first began to develop his ideas about memory and learning when he was studying psychology, English and mathematics at the University of British Columbia. He said that he noticed that the students who did well did not necessarily have the neatest notes - quite the opposite in fact: their notes tended to be messy and covered with doodles, scribbles and key words.

"The great thinkers, including Da Vinci and Montessori, always drew images and arrows and lines in their notes," he said. "When I started using keyword notes, bigger letters, with colour and arrows, it allowed my brain to speak to myself with a lot less clutter. It was as if I'd been driving all my life with my windscreen caked in mud, and suddenly I could see clearly."

After graduating from British Columbia in 1964, Buzan worked in a number of jobs including as editor of the journal of Mensa, the high IQ society. However, he was also developing his ideas on mind-mapping further and by the early 1970s, he had risen to wide prominence, thanks partly to a 1973 BBC series Use Your Head in which his ideas were explored in more depth. He also published several books with the BBC which sold more than three million copies. There were many other books, tapes and audio-visual aids.

Buzan also became an adviser to international corporations and some schools began to use his techniques. On a visit to Scotland in the 1990s, he said teachers were using the wrong techniques to get the best out of their pupils. ''They shift vast amounts of money from one curricular item to another, with different emphases on homework and core subjects, yet they all fail to focus on the child's ability to learn, and to remember and create from what it has learned. They argue about 'an hour's homework every night', when they should be arguing about how that homework is done.''

Buzan's work in the field of human intelligence was prolific, not only writing some 80 books in over 40 different languages, but in bringing individuals together from many academic disciplines.

Although he was an expert in many academic and creative fields it was his skill in explaining the most complex of theories in easy and accessible ways that endeared him to his students and colleagues. As Buzan delved deeper into the twin disciplines of learning and memory he believed he had uncovered universal truths in how humans think, remember, create and evolve intellectually - a distillation he referred to as Human Language.

As his business grew, Buzan developed a world-wide network of instructors that promoted his goal of Global Mental Literacy. He founded the Brain Trust Charity, which supports research into and support for initiatives connected with mental performance. He also established the World Memory Championships in 1991; the latest event will take place in Wuhan in China in December.

Speaking about his work, Buzan said his ideal was a world in which everybody was aware of the potential of their mental and physical abilities. "In other words they know about their extraordinary potential, about the magnificence of their mind, what a miracle their body is and what an incredible gift they have," he said. "And they use that for their own personal self development and to help others."

Over the years, Buzan has worked as a consultant for many companies including Microsoft, IBM, Walt Disney, Encyclopaedia Britannica, British Telecom, and the Royal Mail.

Raymond Keene, co-founder of the World Memory Championships, said of Buzan: "Tony spent his life pushing the boundaries of human thought and intelligence, ever inquisitive and ever evolving. From his groundbreaking BBC series Use your Head in the 1970s to his latest project collaborating on Mind Maps for Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi's new book Exam Warriors, his joy in sharing the gift of expanded intelligence was infectious and inspiring."

Buzan's brother was Barry Buzan, emeritus professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and a collaborator with his brother on the book The Mind Map Book (2000); he survives him.