February 04, 2019 2 min read

According to a recent IFOP survey, nearly 50% of young people aged between 12 and 25 believe that handwritten notes encourage memorization.

This survey is supported by numerous studies and international research. Although digital is now an essential part of our everyday lives, a paper and pencil remain valuable allies too!


(Handwritten)  notes stay… in our memory 
On a keyboard, a single stroke is required to write a letter. And it’s always the same one, whether you type an A or an M. In contrast, using a pen in a writing notebook stimulates numerous areas of the brain. It’s necessary to propel the movements of the hand and to activate all the muscles while “thinking” of the word to be written. This process, divided into several stages, proves to be an excellent stimulus for the memory, as linguist Alain Bentolila explains.

If you need persuading, remember those cheat sheets you prepared just before an exam? The mere act of carefully copying your best notes while concentrating on the important elements of the lesson helps you memorize them. Result: Even more reason to use them! So, if you’ve done your lessons on a computer, the best way of studying your notes is still to copy them out by hand.


Writing by hand: our brain says thank you 
Moreover, this claim is confirmed by a study conducted by Pam A. Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer, researchers from the Universities of Princeton and California. It highlights “the superiority of the pen over the keyboard when taking notes and memorizing. “The reason is simple: when we tap on a keyboard, our brain focuses on the letter and not the content, leading to a word-by-word transcription. In contrast, when we take notes during a meeting or lesson, we encourage our brain to synthesize the key ideas. This analytical effort, combined with the visualization of the words on the paper, greatly improves memorization.

As tapping keys require less motor effort, doing so intensively might even prove negative for our ability to remember. This is highlighted by a Canadian study published in August 2013 following a series of tests on students. Michelle Dresbold writes in her book Sex, Lies and Handwriting “The keyboard has superseded the pencil for a large number of reasons. However, the lack of use of the exercise of writing by hand is likely to deplete our cognitive skills.”


So, open your notebooks and notepads!



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