The 6 Benefits of Handwriting for the Brain

If you're one of the people who has given up on writing by hand, then we're here to tell you that you're missing out on all the benefits it offers you. Science confirms it, the brain activates more and better when you're using pen and paper.
The 6 Benefits of Handwriting for the Brain

Written by Aylin Stefany Rodriguez Vinasco, 01 June, 2021

Last update: 01 June, 2021

As the years go by, writing by hand is becoming less and less common, and we forget the benefits of handwriting, and how it impacts the brain.

Electronic instruments are used as learning tools, and for academic purposes, with the preparation of work, study, and searching for academic information. In short, computers and smartphones are contributing to making handwriting less and less frequent.

This makes many people think that writing with a pen (or pencil) and paper is an activity that’s fading away, and only used by those who dedicate themselves to making a living from it like writers. However, while the younger generations are educated in digital skills, experts emphasize that we shouldn’t abandon handwriting, due to the many benefits it offers.

Handwriting activates three regions of the brain: the motor area, visual area, and cognitive area. In addition, it activates the areas that determine our emotions and feelings. In general, handwriting activates different brain structures and neural networks and contributes to improving cognitive ability.

It encourages learning in children, as well as the development at a practical level of fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and the development of motor control, among other skills. In adulthood, it strengthens prospective and working memory.

Incredibly, it stimulates the brain and activates areas related to the sense of smell through the paper, which, in turn, also activates touch.

The 7 benefits of handwriting for the brain

Writing by hand generates much more activity in the sensory part of the brain, which receives, integrates, and relates different types of sensory and motor information. By pressing the pencil or pen on the paper, many senses are activated, especially when we see the letters that we write.

Similarly, when the brain is subjected to the demand to perform sequential physical strokes to form a single letter, as opposed to a single hit to a single key, large regions of the brain are activated. These include thought, language, and storage areas.

By joining those letters to each other to form words and sentences, the brain links ideas from the past and the present, making it anticipate. This union between the letters generates a series of ideas and thoughts that form the understanding, abstraction, and logic of what’s being written.

1. It improves reading ability and comprehension

The benefits of handwriting include reading
This skill is useful for many aspects of life.

The act of writing favors reading comprehension. In fact, it has been proven that children who write more are the ones who perform better in fluent reading. Reading fluently is synonymous with the fact that whoever reads is understanding what they’re reading.

2. It could prevent the development of certain dementias

Writing by hand, along with other creative activities that promote psychomotor skills such as drawing or doing puzzles, are essential to delay the onset of some diseases. These are related to a cognitive impairment such as senile dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Studies have shown that decreased fine motor activities such as writing, drawing, or dressing contribute to dementia. That’s why keeping the brain active greatly reduces the appearance of this type of disease.

3. It helps express emotions

When people are writing, they express their ideas, thoughts, and projects on paper. By doing this exercise of transferring thoughts onto paper, imagination is given shape, life, and consistency. It becomes something tangible and legible on paper.

Writing by hand reflects our personality. In fact, graphology allows us to discover our personality, character, and feelings through the pen or pencil strokes. Writing has been shown to help people make sense of their experiences and to understand what’s happening to them in a more coherent way.

4. It strengthens creativity

By practicing handwriting, the brain’s neural activity increases, even more than when we type on our computer. In this way, we increase our ability to solve problems, to express ourselves, to use our imagination, and, of course, to be more creative.

When a person writes, they’re “forcing” their brain to focus on what they want it to do – to create mental images. This is why, for example, in classrooms, creativity is encouraged through writing with a dynamic known as creative writing.

5. It could improve short-term memory

The process of handwriting stimulates a part of the brain called the reticular activation system. This acts as a filter for what the brain needs to process, giving more importance to the things that we are concentrating on.

For example, studies have confirmed that by writing a letter we’re strengthening our short-term memory, by being focused on executing that task.

Writing requires effort, dedication, and concentration. The reward is that it will help you memorize what you’ve written and retain it for a certain time.

6. It improves your spelling

The benefits of handwriting include improved spelling
Good spelling is useful for academic and personal purposes.

In the last, but not least, of our benefits of handwriting for the brain, we can mention how it improves our spelling. We relate better to a word when we see it, hear it, and write it.

Studies have confirmed that when we see the same word so much, spelling mistakes are reduced when we try to spell it. This process improves because, when writing by hand, we’re aware of the errors, while when we’re on the computer, it solves them for us.

Also, by being forced to find the correct way to spell a word, when you encounter it again you’ll correct yourself.

Did you know about all these benefits of handwriting?

After finding out all the benefits of writing by hand, it’s easier to understand how vital it is in the development of human beings. By practicing it from childhood right into our old age, we can strengthen many different skills.

In addition to life lessons, we’re stimulating processes related to memory, learning, creativity, concentration, and the expression of emotions. All this translates into personal and social benefits outside the work or academic area.

So, trust the studies and the experts and start handwriting whenever possible!

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