Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Enough with automatic correctors: Writing by hand makes us more attentive (and intelligent) – Corriere.it

Let’s be honest: how many times a day do we curse at WhatsApp’s autocorrect? Well, know that that thing – little by little – is also making us less intelligent.

But not only that: it’s the act of handwriting that we miss. Especially when we were kids.

Because a keyboard may be faster, and has many other advantages, but the process of handwriting – and even more so: learning to do it as children, with the mistakes and the progressive corrections that this entails – activates certain neural connections that remain dormant on a keyboard. This isn’t just a sermon from grandma: a study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, published in Frontiers of Psychology, has proven it.

One of the authors of the research, Audrey van der Meer, emphasizes that “perhaps it’s also an intuitive fact, but we have proven it: when you write by hand, the patterns of brain connectivity are more elaborate compared to when you type on a keyboard, and this network of connections multiplies the capacity for memory, learning, and information processing.” Write and rewrite.

By hand. To prove it, researchers collected electroencephalographic data from 36 university students who were repeatedly asked to write or type a word that appeared on a screen.

During the writing, they used a digital pen to write in cursive directly on a touchscreen. All this with 256 small sensors sewn into a kind of net on their heads.

The result: the connectivity of different brain regions increased when the participants wrote by hand, but not when they typed. Naturally, the use of a digital pen – necessary from a technical point of view for the experiment – does not replicate all the additional activities that come into play when writing on paper: pressure of the hand on the sheet, more or less smoothness of the tip, the energy of gripping the pen, and so on.

But it can reasonably be assumed that the presence of these elements, if measurable, would have further confirmed the theory. “We have shown that differences in brain activity are related to the careful formation of letters during handwriting and the greater use of the senses,” explained van der Meer.

Since it is the movement made during the formation of the letters that promotes brain connectivity. “This also explains – the researcher continues – why children who have learned to write and read on a tablet may have difficulty distinguishing between letters that are mirror images of each other, such as ‘b’ and ‘d.’

Because they have not physically experienced the different sensation of writing them.” *Corriere della Sera is also on Whatsapp.

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January 29, 2024 (Updated on January 29, 2024 | 17:25)
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