Your Brain on Handwriting


Today, much of what we write happens by way of keyboard. Emails have replaced letters; Word documents have replaced notebooks. So much so, in fact, that a British study conducted last year found 1 in 3 people hadn’t used paper and pen in over six months.

In a lot of ways, computers help us in the workplace. We get things done more efficiently, saving both time and money. For those reasons and more, the day of the pen is long gone. But with it, what else are we leaving behind?

There are cognitive and emotional benefits to handwriting that we just don’t get from punching letters on a keyboard. Writing by hand can’t replace your precious computer, but by incorporating handwriting into your daily tasks, you might reap these benefits.

Benefits of Writing on Paper

  • It sharpens cognitive skills. On both aging and developing brains, handwriting has been shown to improve cognitive function, including fine-motor skills.
  • It boosts memory. I, for one, am always more likely to remember something I’ve written down. Especially in children, studies find that those who write by hand have better long-term memory retention.
  • It’s calming. Do you know someone who journals as an emotional outlet? There’s science to back that up. It’s called graphotherapy, and it says that writing a statement you wish to be true can be self-fulfilling. If we write things often enough, we absorb them. “Rush hour is not stressful” might be a helpful written adage for commuters.
  • It inspires creativity. When you write by hand, you use both sides of the brain. The combination of processing thoughts and forming cursive words makes both the right and left sides work together. The slower pace of handwriting compared to typing also allows your ideas to breathe, inspiring creativity in the process.

So, dust off that notebook and start building a stronger brain!

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