Prof. Michael Leyton

Psychology Dept. Rutgers University.



For over 25 years, the Buzan Learning System has been used by large commercial organizations all over the world - literally millions of people - to improve the effectiveness of employees to learn large amounts of information and recall that information permanently. Not only does university require you to study, but virtually every profession you subsequently enter will require you to study large amounts of information - reports of every kind - for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, most people do not know how to study, and waste hours trying to learn material which quickly fades from memory. In most cases, studying is frustrating, time-wasting and self-defeating.

The Buzan system is so effective because it is based on hard facts in the psychology of learning. For example, the following has been demonstrated:

Each review you do also has a recall peak, some time after the review. Again, by hitting this subsequent peak with another review, you decrease the loss of knowledge. Also, crucially every time you review, the peak occurs later and later, as shown here:


(1) 10 minutes after study session

(2) one day later

(3) a week later

(4) a month later

(5) 2-3 months later


Buzan's system takes all aspects of the learning system, and uses cognitive psychology to show you how to structure them. For example, there is a basic psychological result that you remember material mainly from the beginning and the end of a work session; the middle period is dead time. This means that there is a recall curve within a work-session, and it has a peak at the beginning and at the end.

The final main component of Buzan's system is to structure the information you receive, on a page, in exactly the same way that your brain will eventually structure it. This is not the linear order in which you have received the information.

This course is based on the Buzan system. The first two weeks homework are to study the Buzan book. Then you will start to see your ability to study immediately improve. Whenever I have taught this system, students have told me that their grades in all other classes have greatly improved. I have used Buzan's system for my own work, every single day for the last 25 years, and it has enabled me to absorb large amounts of information with enormous effectiveness and ease of recall.

To practice the Buzan system, we will use it for the homeworks in the semester.

There are two required books for the course:

(1) T. Buzan: Use Both Sides of Your Brain.

(2) J. Kagan & J. Segal: Psychology, An Introduction.

You need to obtain them immediately.

You will have a number of readings throughout the first twelve weeks. In addition you should follow the Buzan timetable of reviews given above. This will greatly improve your memory, not only in this class, but set you up for successful habits for the rest of your life. Finally, you need to submit six mind-maps, in the semester, which organize parts of the course material. These will give you very empowering techniques to succeed in your life. I will announce in class, as the semester progresses, which mind-maps to do for the homeworks, and when to hand them in.


Since Buzan has shown that recall is permanent only if one carries out the full 2-3 month set of reviews that coincide with the sequence of recall-peaks listed above, it is pointless to test the student before recall has gained permanence. The point of an exam-grade is to inform someone (e.g., a future employer) that you now know the information with reasonable permanence and reliability. However, this is literally false, if the exam is given before the review schedule has ended. An employer is not interested in your temporary knowledge, only in your permanent knowledge.

Accordingly, the mid-term exam will be given a little later in the semester than usual, only after review-schedules for permanent recall have been completed. The final exam will test all the material.

(1) Midterm: 33% of final grade

(2) Final Exam: 66% of final grade.




Recall during learning; recall after learning; memory - review techniques and theory; special memory systems and mnemonics; the number-rhyme system; key words - recall and creative; multi-ordinate nature of words; key words versus standard notes; linear history of speech and print; your brain and mind-mapping; mind-mapping laws; advanced mind-maps; mind-maps and the left and right cortex; mind-maps uses; mind-mapping for speeches and articles; mind-mapping for lectures; mind-mapping for meetings; old and new study techniques; the browse; time and amount; mind-map of knowledge on the subject; asking questions and defining goals.


Two historical phases - Freud followed by the Object-Relations Theorists; the symptoms of hysteria; Charot's treatment of hysteria; Freud and Janet on the cause of hysteria; Freud's seven fundamental discoveries concerning pathology and treatment; why hypnosis is not a permanent cure; Freud invents the talking cure; free association; transference; dependence as the central fact of childhood; trauma as violations of dependence; the structure of the child's objects relations; internalization of external objects relations; Melanie Klein - the first child psychologist; the role of play; play as free association and transference; Klein's techniques with adults; sadism and violence in child fantasy; the depressive position in infancy; the seven-stage cause of childhood depression; reparation in children; creativity; non-assertiveness and depression in the adult; manic and obsessional disorders; object constancy; therapy as mother-object constancy; the paranoid-schizoid position in infancy; splitting; idealization and devaluation; splitting vs. repression; the advantages of trauma for growth and excellence. Cognitive therapy: At the root of a negative emotion is a false belief system. How to turn your beliefs around to gain a successful, inspiring, exciting life. The power of positive beliefs to attract positive events in your life.


The brain's communication system; how neurons send their messages; the links of the nervous system; the cerebral cortex; sensing and interpreting the environment; processing and transmitting sensory information; generating body movements; managing coordination and balance; thinking and planning; how memories are stored and retrieved; the development of the brain; right and left brain; the brain and emotions; the brain and survival; the autonomic nervous system; the brain's hemispheres and the regulation of emotion; brain imaging; transforming electricity and chemistry into feelings.


Perceptual organizaiton - the Gestalt Principles illustrated; common fate and the Johansson experiment; induced motion and the Duncker experiment; the cloud-moon illusion; separation of systems in motion; the Gestalt approach vs. the Gibsonian approach; Chomsky's three criteria of adequacy; bad grammars and good grammars; syntactic categories as distributional regularities; the English auxiliary system; phrase-structure grammar; the need for transformations; how questions are generated; how passives are generated; semantics; Charles Filmores' case-grammar; pragmatics; functional linguistics; Talmy Givon; the coding of topic; word order codes topic ranking in English; the very different system of Philippine; the failure of Chomsky with Philippine; how passives are formed in Philippine; Givon's definition of transformations; Givon's explanation works for both English and Philippine.


Classical conditioning; conditioned terror; conditioned feelings of illness; conditioning and the immune system; the effects of timing and frequency; the predictability of reinforcement; the power of expectation - drug reactions without drugs; the extinction and recovery of conditioned responses; stimulus generalization and discrimination; the role of built-in predispositions in learning; Skinner's box; basics of operant conditioning; shaping behavior; how superstitions take shape; some features of reinforcement; partial reinforcement schedules; behavior modification and token economies; escape and avoidance in everyday life; how punishment affects behavior; learned helplessness; helplessness and failure.



Bodily changes in emotion; hidden changes in emotion; the role of the autonomic nervous system and glands; the facial muscles and emotion; the James-Lange and Cannon-Baird theories; the cognitive perspective; individual differences in emotions; hunger signals; the body's set point; the psychology of hunger; what makes some people fat; the nature of thirst; changes in sleep ; the need for sleep; dreaming and REM; internal responses to pain; psychological dimensions of pain; how temperature in regulated; hormones; psychological influences social and cultural influences; sexual orientation; the achievement motive; the origins of achievement motivation; the motive of power; the hostility motive; motives for affiliation and dependency; motive for certainty; conformity; motive hierarchies; gauging our odds of success.


Illogical attitudes - prejudices and stereotypes; developing new attitudes throughout life; the theory of cognitive dissonance; how changes in behavior can change our attitudes; being persuaded to change our attitudes; attribution error; mistaken impressions; expectations and social relationships; the potent effects of self-fulfilling prophecies; analyzing our own reactions; the urge to conform and obey; everyday gestures and conformity; The Asch experiment; the Milgram experiment; is conformity the rule; comparing ourselves with others; the faces of aggression; the origins of aggression; the nature of caring; bystander apathy; attraction; the staying power of first impressions; the illusive nature of love.


The narcissistic society; narcissism and the industrial revolution; Donald Winnicott on the true and false self; the features of false self - rigidity, compliance, other-directedness, image-concern, non-autonomy, deadness; the suicide of a comedian; the features of narcissism - grandiosity, need for excessive admiration, lack of empathy; Heinz Kohut on mirroring; how to identify a narcissist; Hitler and Madonna as a case-studies in narcissism; the willingness of society to be caught up in narcissists.


Probability and normal distribution; descriptive statistics - the mean, variability and standard deviation, percentiles; inferential statistics - the science of making generalizations - population and sample, choosing valid control groups, standard error of the mean, probability and significance; the technique and significance of correlation - scatter plots, correlation coefficients, prediction, cause and effect.