November 10 2022
How Does Writing by Hand Impact Your Brain?
It helps your memory, improves creativity, helps you develop intelligence, and at the same time, makes you unique – by your handwriting. What other advantages may choosing pen and paper over a laptop bring? Read on.
First of all: better memory
Japanese scientists say in “Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience” that preparing notes in a traditional way has a fantastic impact on your memory and brain function. The specialists from NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting conducted a study which showed that the people who made their notes by hand remembered details better. Why? As it turns out, those who made their notes by hand showed higher levels of activity in the areas of the brain connected with language and visualization, as well as the so-called hippocampus – the area responsible for memory and spatial information processing.
What is the reason for this? Writing by hand is rich with detail: the surface of the sheet of paper, folded corners of your notepad and so on. This means a higher number of stimuli. The brain engages the hand’s motion, and the hand feels the pressure of the pen against paper. This, in turn, means that the brain areas responsible for motor activity light up. Writing by hand also involves multiple senses – hearing when the pen scratches paper when you write, or the smell of paper. All these sensations make your mind acquire information better, remember them more easily and have no problem with recalling knowledge.
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Digital tools have uniform, standardized text and image layout. Thus, it is difficult to recall a particular page, as they all look the same.
Second: creativity development
Writing by hand improves your intelligence and creativity. It was proven by professor Virginia Berninger of the University of Washington. She conducted a study among primary school students, who were tasked with writing an essay by hand or using their computer. It turned out that the essays written by hand were more creative, and the vocabulary used in them was richer.
Third: content understanding
Making notes by hand requires more focus and involvement. When you listen intently, your brain processes information. The effort accompanying it facilitates understanding and helps remember content. Moreover, handwriting involves more muscles, which supports motor memory.
Pam Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel Oppenheimer from the University of California asked their students to listen to a lecture and make notes of the most important things – depending on their preference – either by hand or on the laptop. Conclusion? Students who took their notes by hand remembered and understood more of the lecture, and their notes more often included key pieces of information.
It turns out that when you write by hand, areas in your brain responsible for emotions activate. Our thoughts, when written down, help us organize the chaos of information – and the related emotional chaos. This, in turn, decreases stress and noticeably improves our well-being, which has a beneficial effect on our immune system.
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Instead of typing on your laptop, chose to make your notes on paper. It’ll improve not only your memory and creativity or better understanding, but also your well-being.
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