Japanese study finds that writing by hand increases brain activity more than electronic memos

Having trouble coming up with or recalling an idea? Try writing it down.

Electronics can do pretty much anything for us nowadays, including organizing our schedules, taking notes, and even meeting a bunch of virtual crabs.

But have you ever wondered if physically writing something down is better for you in the end?

The University of Tokyo and NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting published a study on March 19 saying that handwriting actually increases brain activity more than you would if you used a smartphone or tablet.

▼ Brain stimulation in progress?

In the experiment, researchers divided 48 participants between the ages of 18 and 29 into three groups — one for handwritten notes, one for smartphones, and one for tablets — and asked them to write down plans for the next two months based on a sample text. They were then quizzed on what they wrote down an hour after the exercise while researchers measured their brain activity via functional MRI.

The study found that while there wasn’t much of a difference in the number of correct answers that each of the three groups gave, the handwritten group’s brains showed more activity in areas of the brain that process memories and language.

Associate professor Kuniyoshi Sakai, who participated in the study, claims this is because your brain better remembers the sensation and location of where you physically write letters on a piece of paper. So while electronics like smartphones and tablets take up less space and are great for looking things up, Sakai argues that handwriting can be better for thinking or creativity-based exercises.

Japanese netizens were fascinated with the study and offered their own thoughts on handwriting versus typing.

“I knew it! I always find …continue reading