Tips&TricksHandwriting over typing: An underappreciated tool for brain stimulation and cognitive development

Handwriting over typing: An underappreciated tool for brain stimulation and cognitive development

Regularly train your brain.
Regularly train your brain.
Images source: © Getty Images | Nicolas Hansen
1:24 PM EST, February 1, 2024

In this high-tech era, it's easy to forget that a piece of paper and a pen can be the best tools for our brains. The increasing shift from handwriting to electronic methods doesn't deliver the intellectual benefits our brain needs. Regular cognitive stimulation is essential for maintaining an adequate level of mental processes. Regularly writing texts or notes by hand provides precisely that.

Understanding the benefit of handwriting on our brain

Scientific research confirms that our brain prefers intellectual stimulation in handwriting. This activity activates our brain's neural networks, leading to better connections. Handwriting demands a certain effort from us, a challenge our brain enjoys. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim have endorsed these findings.

In one study, 36 participants were evaluated using an electroencephalograph, or a grid of 256 sensors placed on the head. Participants wrote words on a screen with a stylus and typed them on a keyboard. The results were undoubtedly revealing. Handwriting triggered much higher brain activity in the participants. A result speculated to be linked to sight and movement during writing.

Are there any other benefits of handwriting apart from brain stimulation?

Whenever the opportunity to write by hand presents itself, we should take it. We will likely remember better what we write and feel more focused when writing. It also aids the education process for children, particularly when learning to write consonants like "d" and "b". The inability to write these often points to a lack of muscle memory in their brains, an essential ability in early cognitive development and education stages.

Handwriting not only acts as an effective cognitive stimulant but also has a therapeutic function. Recording your emotions in writing may help you process them better and even boost your immune system. Jotting down your dreams, goals, or tasks can also increase the likelihood of accomplishing them sooner. For our overall health and to keep our brain functioning optimally, it's advisable to handwrite at least one page of text every day.

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