Today, nearly everything is done on an electronic device. People type emails and text messages almost every day, and many individuals even type reminders or notes to themselves on apps. Hand-written notes and letters are becoming obsolete. However, writing by hand improves long-term memory.
Typing Versus Writing
A group of researchers at Claremont College conducted a study to determine whether hand-written notes or typed notes were more beneficial to students. Their study showed that students who used hand-written notes retained more of what they learned than students who typed their notes. In their study report, the researchers included prior research references that showed enhanced organizational processing among people who used hand-written notes.
Many people say that typing notes makes them more efficient because they can type faster than they can write. In another study published by the Journal of Educational Psychology, researchers found that people who typed their notes only recalled them for about 24 hours. However, people who wrote their notes by hand still remembered them several days later.
Why Writing Improves Memory
Researchers say that writing by hand stimulates specific neural pathways in the brain. When they studied MRI brain scans of people who wrote or drew images by hand, they discovered that those neural pathways showed more activity. Writing by hand triggers a part of the brain that stimulates long-term memory.
People who want to train their brains to retain more information can practice by writing notes frequently. Also, it is helpful to keep a written journal. Some people do this for business or to record events in their personal lives. Researchers especially encourage older adults to write by hand frequently to help prevent memory loss and to stimulate important brain activity.