Don’t trade in your pencils and paper for a keyboard just yet.
A new study that compared the different brain processes used for writing by hand and typing has found that there are cognitive benefits to putting a pen to paper. These findings give support to the continued teaching of penmanship and handwriting in schools.
Children who don’t learn the skill of handwriting, like generations before them had to, may be missing out on an important developmental process. Compared to using two hands to type out letters on a keyboard, writing with one hand uses more complex brain power.
Writing is more complicated because it integrates the following three brain processes:
- Visual: Seeing what is on the paper in front of you.
- Motor: Using your fine motor skills to actually put the pen to paper and form the letters to make the words.
- Cognitive: Remembering the shapes of the letters requires a different type of feedback from the brain.
As adults, we know that writing by hand is a much slower process than typing on a keyboard. And we’re all in a hurry to share our every thought with our social networking worlds. But, as an experiment, sit down and write a letter. See how different it feels to actually hold the pen and to have to plan out your thoughts. It’ll be good for your brain. Handwriting may be slower, and there is no spell check, but this is precisely why picking up a pen and writing your thoughts down on paper may actually help you exercise your brain.