Write, Don’t Type, for a Sharp Mind and Memory

Write, Don't Type, for a Sharp Mind and Memory 1

The process of putting pen to paper and reading from a book seems to imprint knowledge in the brain in a better way than using a keyboard and computer screen.

Reading and writing involves a number of senses and when writing by hand our brain receives feedback from our muscles and finger tips, they say.

These kinds of feedback are stronger than those we receive when touching and typing on a keyboard and strengthens the learning mechanism, according to the findings published in the journal Advances in Haptics.

It also takes more mental effort and time to write by hand and so this is thought to also help imprint memories.

Prof Anne Mangen, of the University of Stavanger in Norway, said research had shown different parts of the brain are stimulated by reading and writing.

Since writing by hand takes longer than typing on a keyboard the temporal aspect of the brain which is involved in language may also influence the learning process, Prof Mangen said.

The term “haptic” refers to the process of touching and the way in which we communicate by touch, particularly by using our fingers and hands to explore our surroundings.

Haptics include both our perceptions when we relate passively to our surroundings, and when we move and act.

Prof Mangen referred to an experiment involving two groups of adults, in which the participants were assigned the task of having to learn to write in an unknown alphabet, consisting of approximately twenty letters.

One group was taught to write by hand, while the other was using a keyboard.

Three and six weeks into the experiment the participants’ recollection of these letters, as well as their rapidity in distinguishing right and reversed letters, were tested. Those who had learned the letters by handwriting came out best in all tests.

Furthermore, brain scans indicated an activation of the Broca’s area within this group.

Among those who had learned by typing on keyboards, there was little or no activation of this area.

Prof Mangen: “The sensorimotor component forms an integral part of training for beginners, and in special education for people with learning difficulties.

“But there is little awareness and understanding of the importance of handwriting to the learning process, beyond that of writing itself.”

Meanwhile research suggests that practice really does make perfect in that repeated repetition changes the structure of the brain.

Dr Xiaohong Wan and colleagues at the Brain Science Institute in Japan found that professional Shogi players – a game similar to chess – had different wired brains to amateurs.

The study, published in Science, also found that they became so good at the game that they acted without thinking and that different parts of the brain were activated during the process.

The article appeared in The Telegraph, UK

Disclaimer: One element of handwriting may be analysed at a time, but always look at the entire handwriting sample before arriving at any conclusion.