With the advent of computers and social media, the old-fashioned skill of handwriting seems to be fading into the past. But research shows that it may be worth keeping handwriting as an everyday skill, due to its positive effects on brain health.
Handwriting is being phased out of many schools’ curricula in favor of computer learning. But research shows that although typing makes writing faster, it also fails to exercise critical parts of the brain.
Likewise, college students who take notes by hand understand the material better than computer note-takers. Handwriting takes more focus and discernment, enhancing memory, while typing is more mindless transcription. In fact, taking notes on a computer actually impairs learning while handwriting enhances it, thanks to the motor skills involved.
Children take several years to learn to write because writing exercises so many different parts of the brain, enhancing its development. Brain scans of children learning letters through writing versus typing showed writing activates various parts of the brain, while typing hardly activates it at all. This is important because the brain needs activation for the neurons (brain cells) to maintain health.
Neuroscience has discovered a variety of reasons why handwriting is beneficial for the brain:
- It stimulates more ideas and creativity
- It activates learning pathways in the brain
- Taking notes by hand improves memory
- Handwriting improves fine motor skills that involve more areas of the brain in the learning process
- Cursive writing can help remedy dyslexia
Handwriting benefits overall health
Writing by hand can improve your health by boosting brain function. What you write about can matter too:
- People who keep a gratitude journal are more optimistic and exercise more
- Writing your thoughts and feelings can make your wounds heal faster
- Writing down what you’re grateful for can help you sleep better
- Expressive writing is shown to improve mental and physical well-being
Whether you take notes in class, keep a journal, or pen short stories for fun, handwriting is one way to boost your brain function and improve your quality of life.
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