Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Study: Handwriting better than keyboards for learning ability

Published 9 February 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Precisely controlled hand movements contribute to brain connectivity patterns that promote learning.

Writing by hand with a pencil leads to higher brain connectivity than typing on a keyboard, according to a study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

In today’s schools, the use of paper and pencil is becoming increasingly rare as students use computers more and more. Keyboards have the advantage of being faster, but writing by hand has other advantages, says brain researcher Audrey van der Meer.

– As digital devices progressively replace pen and paper, taking notes by hand is becoming increasingly uncommon in schools and universities. Using a keyboard is recommended because it’s often faster than writing by hand. However, writing with a pen has been found to improve spelling accuracy and memory recall, she told The Jerusalem Post.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, collected EEG (electroencephalogram) data from 36 university students who were repeatedly asked to write words that appeared on a screen, either with a pen or on a keyboard.

When writing with their hands, they used a digital pen to write in cursive directly on a touch screen, and when writing on the keyboard, they used a finger to press keys.

“Promotes learning”

High-density EEG, which measures electrical activity in the brain using 256 small sensors sewn into a mesh and worn on the head, was recorded for five seconds for each prompt.

Connectivity between different brain regions increased when participants wrote by hand, but not when they typed on a keyboard.

– Our findings suggest that visual and movement information obtained through precisely controlled hand movements when using a pen contribute extensively to the brain’s connectivity patterns that promote learning, says van der Meer.

Keyboards monotonous

Although the participants used digital pens, the researchers say the results should be similar to using a real pen on paper. However, the more monotonous movement of typing on a keyboard is less stimulating for the brain.

– This also explains why children who have learned to write and read on a tablet can have difficulty differentiating between letters that are mirror images of each other, such as ‘b’ and ‘d’. They literally haven’t felt with their bodies what it feels like to produce those letters, says the neuroscientist.

The researchers believe the study’s findings point to the need to give students the opportunity to use pens instead of having them write on keyboards in class.

– Guidelines to ensure that students receive at least a minimum of handwriting instruction could be an adequate step, van der Meer suggests.


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