The new study analyzed brainwade patterns in children and young people when writing by hand and on keyboards. The results showed a marked difference in brain patterns between the two activities, which led the researchers to believe that learning is more effective when accompanied by handwriting. Over the past few decades, the protruding role of digital devices in the educational environment has expanded rapidly. Typing on tablets and digital devices has proliferated in the classroom, often at the expense of traditional opportunities to hone handwriting skills.
Audrey van der Meer, from the Norwegian University of Technology, has been studying differences in brain activity between handwriting and typing for years. A high-profile 2017 study by van der Meer and colleagues used high-density electro-brain maps (EEGs) to compare the brain activity of 20 college students while typing and drawing.
Previous results found that the best brainwade patterns learned only appeared when the subjects were hand-written, but not when the subjects typed. The new study builds on the differences in brain activity between children and young people in painting, cursing and typing.
“We found that for young people, when writing on a touch screen using a digital pen, the brain regions of the top leaf and central region showed event-related synchronous activity within the gamish range,” the researchers wrote in the new study. “The available literature suggests that this oscillating neuron activity in these specific brain regions is important for the coding of memory and new information, thus providing the brain with the best conditions for learning.”
When young adult subjects were drawing, the researchers saw similar activation of brain regions, but the study did notice slightly different activation patterns. “The neural processes involved in handwriting and painting seem to be more similar than typing,” the study said. Brain activity in typing is significantly different from handwriting and painting.
Interestingly, these patterns of brain activity were similar in the children studied, but were seen to a lower degree. The researchers believe the findings confirm the value of ensuring that children are exposed to all three behaviors — writing, drawing and typing — to strengthen each individual’s brain circuit.
“Learning handwriting is a slow process, but it’s important for children to go through the tiring phase of learning handwriting, ” van der Meer explains. “Complex hand movements and letter shapes are beneficial in several ways. If you use the keyboard, you will use the same action for each letter. Handwriting requires control of your fine movement skills and senses. It is important to keep the brain in a learning state as often as possible. I can write papers on the keyboard, but I write notes by hand during lectures. “
The researchers eventually made it clear that they were not calling for a ban on the use of digital devices in educational settings at all. Instead, the study sought to make a clear distinction between the three behaviors of brain activity and suggested that painting and handwriting are distinct cognitive tasks compared to typing, and that these neural processes should be cultivated in the same educational environment.
“This study shows that basic EEN activity associated with handwriting, typing, and painting is different,” the researchers concluded. “So it’s important to realize when to use a strategy, whether it’s learning new conceptual materials or writing long papers. Even if there are fundamental differences between the three strategies, it is important that they are cognitive tasks, each with its own benefits. “
The new study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.