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New Study Shows Stronger Brain Activity After Writing On Paper Than on a Tablet or Smartphone

Author: NeuroGym Team | 2021

Life is chaotic.

It’s a constant rush from one place to another and a million thoughts flying through your head at any point in time. No wonder writing things down to manifest works so well!

You have to make notes of important dates, ideas, and goals to prevent forgetting crucial information, but are you doing this properly?

Even more importantly, you have to take notes to plan for your future and to achieve your goals. It’s difficult to realize your dreams if you can’t make proper notes.

Taking Notes Is Challenging

Everyone takes notes in some way. You might scratch a note in a diary, scribble it on a sticky note, or rely on your phone’s notepad app. Your computer can keep notes for you and so can a tablet.

Still, note-taking is difficult and there are good reasons why.

Life Is a Rush

These days, people are always on the run. You can probably list all your tasks for the day right now and realize your schedule is jam-packed. This is a problem.

Between all the rushing around, it is quite likely that you will forget about something, so you make a note. You grab the nearest note-taking tool, be it pen and paper or a digital device, and capture your thoughts by writing them down.

Making notes is good, but rushing isn’t. It doesn’t allow you to form your thoughts fully, and you may miss out on important details.

Stuff Everywhere

Now that you’ve made a note, you have to put it somewhere. The problem is that these notes pile up, and after a while, they are everywhere.

You could have a note in your diary on the wrong date or sent a last-minute thought to yourself via email. Finding these notes at a later stage is challenging—especially if you can’t remember where you put them.

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Notes Get Lost

It is inevitable that some notes will get lost along the way. They could be missing because they are everywhere, or there is the possibility they were accidentally thrown away or deleted, and that means some task is going unfinished.

Obviously, this situation isn’t ideal. If you lost a note, then you are going to forget about something. This only leads to more problems later on, so you really have to find the most effective way to take notes.

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Studying Brain Activity

Note-taking is such an important task that the University of Tokyo recently made it a subject of a study on brain activity. Researchers wanted to determine how the brain responds to taking notes on pen and paper versus making notes on a digital device.

Specifically, they wanted to see if brain activity and recall is impacted by the tools used to take notes.

Analog and Digital Formats

The study consisted of 48 participants with ages ranging from 18 to 29. The group was split in half. One group would use pen and paper (analog) while the remaining participants would use a tablet and stylus or smartphone with a digital keyboard to take notes.

The group using paper were given a form of a datebook or diary. Participants using digital methods were told they could use the calendar app on the device.

Reading and Taking Notes

Both groups were given the same piece of information to study: a fictional conversation. The text was full of pertinent details discussed by the characters.

Participants were encouraged to make notes about the conversation as they saw fit, but they had to use their assigned tools. No time limit was given, so they had as much time as necessary to fully complete this part of the study.

Both groups were told to focus on making notes about the character’s schedule, but they were discouraged from memorizing it.

Evaluating Answers

After all the note-taking was done, the researchers gave participants a break. They also gave them an interference activity that would distract them from thinking about the schedule.

Participants then regrouped, and the researchers administered a test to evaluate their recall. Both groups received the same questions, which included easy and difficult recall challenges.

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Writing Things Down to Manifest Works

The research from the University of Tokyo provided astounding results! Together with the test results and outputs from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners, researchers could determine the best way to take notes.

Getting Results

The group using pen and paper took about 11 minutes to complete the initial task, while participants with digital devices required up to 16 minutes, so it’s clear to see that paper is a much faster option.

Recall test scores indicated that the analog group remembered 25% more than the digital group.

The MRI scans also showed that participants writing on paper had more brain activity during note-taking. They found a greater amount of oxygen flowing to the brain during this process when compared to the group using digital devices.

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Paper Enhances Your Senses

The researchers found that paper stimulates a person’s senses, which attributes to more brain activity while taking notes. Participants could feel the texture of the paper, the weight of the notebook in their hand, and the ridges along the sides.

Analog note-taking was more creative, and participants could express themselves through descriptive notes and images. Researchers link this visualization and use of language with better activation of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain that assists with navigating information and producing memories.

Spatial Awareness

Spatial awareness is the ability to understand yourself and other objects relative to the surrounding area. In the case of this study, the participants were in an MRI scanner, but they also had a notebook or a digital device taking up space.

Participants became aware of the space on and surrounding their note-taking tools. Digital devices had a single screen using the same size calendar squares and a uniform font—this is easy to forget.

Notebooks take up an entirely different space even if they have uniform lines or blocks. The note taker can decide whether they want to write big or small, draw an image, and where they want to do this on the page. All of these things make it much easier to see the note in the mind’s eye.

Manifesting Ideas

Your brain is powerful and wants you to use it properly. Paper is one of those things that can help your brain to function better because it uses your spatial awareness, which improves memory.

Visualizing Your Notes

Every one of us has made notes on paper at some time. It might have been shorthand notes in your college textbook; maybe you drew a stick figure in a novel you were reading or drew a heart around the date in your calendar to signify your anniversary.

All of these images you can visualize in front of you right now.

It is much more difficult to do that on a digital device because you cannot incorporate your senses or see it in your mind since every page on your phone, tablet, or computer looks the same—there is nothing unique about them.

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The Power of Visualization

The benefits of taking down analog notes are unquestionable. They will make you more organized and help you to recall things better, but there is so much more to it than just writing things down.

You have hopes, dreams, and plans for the future. You want to manifest these things and part of that is committing them to notes. Writing things down on paper will give you an advantage because it activates your brain and uses visualization so you are concentrating on your goals.

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Using Innercise™ for Manifesting

Writing things down physically can help you to manifest. This forms part of my strategy for using Innercise™, which helps you reach your full potential.

Write Down Your Intentions and Plan

All your desires start as intentions—something you want to do, get, achieve, or become. These intentions inspire goals and actions that get you closer to the outcome you want.

Get a notebook or large piece of paper and write down all your intentions. Commit your ideas and wishes to paper.

Use Your Imagination

The paper you use is your space, so make it work for you. Use different colors, writing styles, or pictures. Add textural elements and emphasize the things that are most important. You want this paper to be unforgettable.

Take note of everything around you—the sounds, temperature, and smell. Feel the weight of the paper in your hands. You want to remember all of these things to enhance your brainpower.

Visualize

Study your paper for a couple of minutes so that you can remember all the parts of it.

Close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths, and visualize your creation in front of you. What do you see? What grabs your attention?

Final Thoughts

You have the power and ambition within you to do great things, but you need to strengthen your brain with Innercise™ to get there more easily. Focus on manifesting with notes, visualize your plan, and soon, you will find your dreams within your reach.

There are so many ways to train your brain, but I cannot share all of them in a single article. If you want to know more, then sign up for the Brain-A-Thon where I join five experts to teach you all about neuroscience and its impact on your life.

About The Author

NeuroGym Team

NeuroGym Team: NeuroGym’s Team of experts consists of neuroscientists, researchers, and staff who are enthusiasts in their fields. The team is committed to making a difference in the lives of others by sharing the latest scientific findings to help you change your life by understanding and using the mindset, skill set and action set to change your brain.

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