Photo: Pakutaso

Japanese study finds that writing by hand increases brain activity more than electronic memos

By Shannon, SoraNews24

Electronics can do pretty much anything for us nowadays, including organizing our schedules, taking notes, and even meeting a bunch of virtual crabs.

But have you ever wondered if physically writing something down is better for you in the end?

The University of Tokyo and NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting published a study last month saying that handwriting actually increases brain activity more than you would if you used a smartphone or tablet.

In the experiment, researchers divided 48 participants between the ages of 18 and 29 into three groups — one for handwritten notes, one for smartphones, and one for tablets — and asked them to write down plans for the next two months based on a sample text. They were then quizzed on what they wrote down an hour after the exercise while researchers measured their brain activity via functional MRI.

The study found that while there wasn’t much of a difference in the number of correct answers that each of the three groups gave, the handwritten group’s brains showed more activity in areas of the brain that process memories and language.

Associate professor Kuniyoshi Sakai, who participated in the study, claims this is because your brain better remembers the sensation and location of where you physically write letters on a piece of paper. So while electronics like smartphones and tablets take up less space and are great for looking things up, Sakai argues that handwriting can be better for thinking or creativity-based exercises.

Japanese netizens were fascinated with the study and offered their own thoughts on handwriting versus typing.

“I knew it! I always find it easier to sort out my thoughts when writing by hand. Tools like Apple Pencils are great because they don’t require paper, but I don’t want to solely be drawn in by their convenience. “I want to stay flexible.”

“I’ve felt a bit embarrassed carrying around a paper planner, but this news makes me so happy! I actually like writing.”

“I think electronics have more pros, though.”

“Yeah, but smartphones have kanji conversion.”

Like the last netizen said, writing things by hand could change between languages. You’ll have to have a lot of writing practice to remember thousands of Japanese kanji characters, but if you have a smartphone or tablet, the device will convert your writing from phonetic hiragana to complicated kanji with little effort on your part.

It’s probably this kind of convenience that prompted Shibuya Ward to give each elementary and junior high school students a tablet! But we have a feeling, despite that, teachers will still be asking kids to practicing writing kanji by hand.

Sources: via

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- To handwrite, or not to handwrite? Recruiter lays into ‘laziness’ of young Japanese job hunters

-- Internet trolls may not be the type of people you think they are, according to Japanese research

-- Shibuya gives each public elementary and junior high student a Surface Go 2 tablet for school

© SoraNews24

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Vastly prefer to write with a fountain pen, always found I could organise my thoughts better by writing things down and still do, also much better for learning things as well, facilitates memory.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Neh, they should have measured me trying to type in Japanese and they would find out that all my brain is active and yet no success.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I don't just write things down, I write in cursive. So glad I learned that as a child. Also, Japanese people appreciate beautiful handwriting and I've received many a compliment from them.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

My brain activity has already evolved and is now independent from handwriting. lol

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Is increased brain activity a positive thing?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Huh, I thought this was already a well-known fact.

When it comes to studying, you absorb things way better when you actually physically write it down, as opposed to typing. At least, that's what I was taught and it certainly rings true for me.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I hardly write anything anymore but when I do, it is atrocious. Since the advent of digitalization, my handwriting has become almost childlike. Whenever I sign my name to anything, I can hardly bear to look at it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Handwriting letters to my friends in Japan is my GO-TO preference. And I know they appreciate the letters, not only because they're handwritten, but because I bring home a good supply of fancy Japanese writing paper and envelopes every time I visit them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is not a Japanese discovery. At best, it is a replication of a study already done:,Taking%20Notes%20By%20Hand%20May%20Be%20Better%20Than%20Digitally%2C%20Researchers,re%20forced%20to%20slow%20down.

But I guess if you live on Galápagos, you've not aware of these things.

4 ( +4 / -0 )


This information is not new.

The neuroscience on how hand writing enhances the growth and function of neuropathways and electrochemical transmission has bee around for over some 3 decades.

Diverse US and European studies show that hand writing supports the development of circuits in the brains cerebral cortex producing higher process thinking : and other functions, such as:

more fluid transfer of knowledge; critical analysis ; delay of immediate gratification ; memory retention; activating information stored in memory - artistically, technically, etc.


3 ( +3 / -0 )

When I get my medications at the local VA clinic, I have to 'sign' with an electronic pen and I write cursive. Then again, i'm using Roman writing too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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