Science 3 min read

Study Suggests that Writing By Hand Makes Kids Smarter

todabasura /

todabasura /

Digital devices have become more prominent in educational settings over the last decade.

Children now rely on tablets and other digital devices for learning in classrooms. This is especially true because the current pandemic further increased the use of tablets and PCs for learning.

While digital learning provides several advantages, its primary input method involves typing, touching, or mouse dragging.

As a result, students rarely get the chance to hone their cursive handwriting skills. And that could hinder the learning process, says the researchers at Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Here’s why.

Brain Activity Differences Between Handwriting and Typewriting

Audrey Van der Meer has been studying the differences in brain activity between handwriting and typewriting for a while now.

In a 2017 study, the researcher compared brain activity in 20 college students using a high-density electroencephalogram (EEG). She recorded the participant’s brain pattern while they typed and drew pictures.

Van der Meer noted a specific brainwave pattern — previously hypothesized as optimal for learning — appeared when the subjects were handwriting. But it was noticeably absent when they were typing.

The new research follows on from that study.

This time, the researchers explored the differences in brain activity between drawing, cursive writing, and typewriting. Also, the new study focused primarily on children and young adults.

Here’s the key takeaway.

How Writing by Hand Enhances Learning and Memory

Adults writing by hand using a digital pen on a touchscreen showed the same brainwave pattern. It was also present in participants that were drawing.

However, the study noted a slightly different brainwave pattern in adults that were typing.

What’s more, the children in the study also showed similar brain activity patterns, but to a lesser extent. This study noted the importance of exposing children to all three behaviors — writing, drawing, and typing.

However, it further emphasizes how writing by hand impacts learning and memory.

Van der Meer explained:

“The use of pen and paper gives the brain more ‘hooks’ to hang your memories on. Writing by hand creates much more activity in the sensorimotor parts of the brain.”

Van der Meer and colleagues explained that they do not call for a ban on digital devices in educational settings.

Instead, the study suggests that drawing and handwriting are cognitive tasks compared to typewriting. So, schools should do more to nurture these neural processes.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Read More: Manipulating the Alpha Brain Waves to Boost Attention

First AI Web Content Optimization Platform Just for Writers

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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