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Writing By Hand Boosts Brain Connections And Learning, New Study Finds

Taking notes by hand improves memory recall and brain connectivity, according to research

Writing by hand rather than tapping on a keyboard strengthens brain connections and boosts learning and memory, a new study has revealed.


New research has shown that taking notes by hand helps students to learn, as well as improving spelling accuracy, memory recall, and brain connectivity. To get their results the teams repeatedly prompted 36 university students to either write or type a word that appeared on a screen.


They then used 256 small sensors( are devices which detect a physical phenomenon by producing an output signal) on the head to measure electrical activity in their brains. Results, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, showed that connectivity of different brain regions increased when participants wrote by hand, but not when they typed.


“We show that when writing by hand, brain connectivity patterns are far more elaborate than when typewriting on a keyboard. Such widespread brain connectivity is known to be crucial for memory formation and for encoding new information and, therefore, is beneficial for learning,” said Professor Audrey van der Meer from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.


The researchers believe that this is because the careful forming of letters is more stimulating for the brain than simply hitting keys with the same finger repeatedly.


“We have shown that the differences in brain activity are related to the careful forming of the letters when writing by hand while making more use of the senses,” added Professor van der Meer.


“This also explains why children who have learned to write and read on a tablet, can have difficulty differentiating between letters that are mirror images of each other, such as ‘b’ and ‘d’. They literally haven’t felt with their bodies what it feels like to produce those letters,” he continued.


With typing being easier and faster, notetaking by hand is becoming increasingly uncommon in schools and universities. The team note that their findings should encourage schools to give their students more opportunities to use pens, rather than typing, during their classes.


“There is some evidence that students learn more and remember better when taking handwritten lecture notes, while using a computer with a keyboard may be more practical when writing a long text or essay,” concluded Professor van der Meer. 

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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