Skip to content

Lend Me a Pencil!

Scientists say writing words by hand uses parts of the brain that aren’t active when we type those same words.

A student sits at a desk and writes in a notebook as her brain sits on top of her head and lifts weights.

© Good Studio/stock.adobe.com, © Xsviatx/Dreamstime.com; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Writing things by hand may be good for our minds. A new study shows that parts of the brain are more active when we are handwriting words than when we’re typing them.

In the study, scientists at a university in Norway recorded the brain activity of 36 students while the students typed a word or handwrote it in cursive with a digital pen. The scientists wanted to see if either of these activities would cause two parts of the brain to be active at the same time. That’s a sign that different parts of the brain are communicating with one another.

The scientists found that when the students wrote words by hand, many parts of their brains were active. When the students typed words, fewer parts of the brain were active. This is partly because writing words with a pen or pencil requires more motor skills, which are skills having to do with moving the body. Typing doesn’t require as much movement. But handwriting also seems to cause more activity in parts of the brain related to learning and memory.

Audrey van der Meer is one of the scientists who was involved in the study. She says people may learn and remember information better when they write it down by hand. But that doesn’t mean everyone should stop using computers and tablets. Typing is often easier and faster than writing. Scientists say it’s possible that writing things down is better for some tasks and typing is better for others.

NEWS EXTRA!

Super Bowl Champs!

Two football players hug in celebration on the field as other players in the same uniform look on.

Jeff Speer—Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman celebrates with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (number 15). Hardman caught the game-winning touchdown pass.

For the second year in a row, the Kansas City Chiefs are Super Bowl champions. The Chiefs scored a 25-22 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. They’re the first team to win two Super Bowl titles back-to-back since the New England Patriots.

The Chiefs are only the seventh team in NFL history to win four Super Bowls.

Face Thinking Icon

Did You Know?

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-USZ62-110307), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1998.538.1); Photo illustration Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Printing type (words) was invented in about 1045 CE in Asia and 1440 CE in Europe. Before that, all books had to be written by hand. This was the job of a specially trained writer called a scribe. Scribes didn’t come up with the words—they only wrote them down.

Mirror Writing

Leonardo da Vinci’s illustration of his flying machine with parts labeled in mirror writing.

Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images

Fifteenth-century artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci often wrote backward, as shown above. Historians call this “mirror writing” because mirrors reflect writing (and everything else) backward.

No one is sure why Leonardo used mirror writing. Some people think he was trying to hide his ideas so they wouldn’t be stolen. Others believe he was trying not to smudge his writing. Leonardo was left-handed. If he wrote from left to right, the way most of us do, his left hand would have smeared the wet ink.

Writing in Pictures

© Basphoto/Dreamstime.com

There are many ways to write. You may know more than one! This sentence is written in the ABC alphabet, also called the Latin alphabet. Japanese, Korean, Arabic, and other languages use other alphabets.

Did you know that the ancient Egyptians used a writing system made up of pictures called hieroglyphics? You can read about hieroglyphics and see some examples at Britannica.

Word of the Day Icon

Word of the Day

transcribe

Part of speech:

verb

Definition:

 : to make a written copy of (something)

Definitions provided by
Merriam-Webster Logo
Game Icon

Play

Crossword

O
O
O
O
O

In Case You Missed It

Brazil’s National Museum has received a generous gift of more than 1,100 fossils.
June 6, 2024
A new book about life in ancient Egypt is based on a very old story.
June 2, 2024
A miniature poodle named Sage won top prize at the Westminster Dog Show.
May 30, 2024
The finalists for the 2024 Comedy Pet Photography Awards have been announced!
May 22, 2024