Many people claims that the mind map is a vastly superior note taking method because it does not lead to a
"semi-hypnotic trance" state induced by other note forms. Buzan also argues that the mind map uses the full range of left and right human cortical skills, balances the brain, taps into the alleged "99% of your unused mental potential", as well as intuition (which he calls "super logic"). However, scholarly research suggests that such claims may actually be marketing hype based on the 10% of brain myth and exaggeration of the importance of lateralization of brain function. Critics argue that hemispheric specialization theory has been identified as pseudo scientific when applied to mind mapping.

Farrand, Hussain, and Hennessy (2002) found that spider diagrams (similar to concept maps) had a limited but significant impact on memory recall in undergraduate students (a 10% increase over baseline for a 600-word text only) as compared to preferred study methods (a 6% increase over baseline). This improvement was only robust after a week for those in the diagram group and there was a significant decrease in motivation compared to the subjects' preferred methods of note taking. Farrand et al. suggested that learners preferred to use other methods because using a mind map was an unfamiliar technique, and its status as a "memory enhancing" technique engendered reluctance to apply it. Nevertheless the conclusion of the study was "Mind maps provide an effective study technique when applied to written material. However before mind maps are generally adopted as a study technique, consideration has to be given towards ways of improving motivation amongst users."

Pressley, VanEtten, Yokoi, Freebern, and VanMeter (1998) found that learners tended to learn far better by focusing on the content of learning material rather than worrying over any one particular form of note taking.