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Children and students who write by hand learn better than those who type, according to study

24 Jan 2011

The process of putting pen to paper and reading from a book seems to imprint knowledge in the brain in a more effective way than using a keyboard and computer screen.

Reading and writing involves a number of senses and when writing by hand our brain receives feedback from our muscles and finger tips.

These kinds of feedback are stronger than those we receive when touching and typing on a keyboard and strengthens the learning mechanism, according to the findings published in the journal Advances in Haptics.

It also takes more mental effort and time to write by hand and so this is thought to also help imprint memories.

Prof Anne Mangen, of the University of Stavanger in Norway, said research had shown different parts of the brain are stimulated by reading and writing.

Since writing by hand takes longer than typing on a keyboard the temporal aspect of the brain which is involved in language may also influence the learning process, Prof Mangen said.

The term "haptic" refers to the process of touching and the way in which we communicate by touch, particularly by using our fingers and hands to explore our surroundings.

Prof Mangen referred to an experiment involving two groups of adults, in which the participants were assigned the task of having to learn to write in an unknown alphabet, consisting of approximately twenty letters.

One group was taught to write by hand, while the other was using a keyboard.

Three and six weeks into the experiment the participants' recollection of these letters, as well as their rapidity in distinguishing right and reversed letters, were tested. Those who had learned the letters by handwriting scored the best results.

Furthermore, brain scans indicated an activation of the Broca's area within this group.

Among those who had learned by typing on keyboards, there was little or no activation of this area.

Prof Mangen:"The sensorimotor component forms an integral part of training for beginners, and in special education for people with learning difficulties.

"But there is little awareness and understanding of the importance of handwriting to the learning process, beyond that of writing itself."


Read more at The Telegraph.

Tags: Children, Schools & teaching, Young People

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