In a rapidly evolving world, traditional practices are
fading into obscurity, and one such practices is handwriting. Cursive writing
was ousted from Common Core Standards in 2010, marking a significant decline in
its usage. The shift towards digital recording and typing for note-taking in
educational and professional settings has prompted researchers to investigate
its impact on human cognition.
Published in Frontiers, a team of Norwegian researchers
conducted a study involving 36 university students to assess the comparative
benefits of handwriting versus typing. Using EEG machines, participants were
monitored while either writing or typing a word. The findings revealed that
brain connectivity was more intricate during handwriting, suggesting its
superiority for memory formation and learning.
Prof. Audrey van der Meer from the Norwegian University of
Science and Technology, a co-author of the study, emphasized the importance of
visual and movement information in handwriting, which contributes to enhanced
brain connectivity essential for learning. Despite concerns about the medium
(screen versus paper), researchers highlighted the significance of controlled
hand movements in stimulating brain activity.
The crucial difference lies in the tactile and sensory
stimulation that writing provides, aiding in the absorption and comprehension
of information. Prof. van der Meer illustrated this with the example of
children learning to write on tablets, who struggle to differentiate
mirror-image letters due to lack of physical engagement in letter formation.
The researchers advocated for the retention of handwriting
in educational curricula, citing its unique benefits for learning and memory.
They applauded efforts by some states to reintroduce cursive writing and
recommended a balanced approach, suggesting handwritten notes for lectures and
digital tools for longer texts or essays.
While the world embraces digital advancements, the neuroscience of writing underscores the enduring value of pen and paper. Recognizing the profound impact of handwriting on cognition, educational authorities are urged to integrate it into modern learning environments, preserving an age-old practice for its intrinsic cognitive benefits.