The Power Of The Pen


Since it’s invention in 1938, the pen has been a staple of our stationery arsenal. An essential element that helps us put our thoughts on paper in a tangible way. The invention of the computer saw a brief dip in popularity, but the pen still holds its place as one of the most important things on our desk. I know many people prefer to keep everything digitally now, but here’s some news for you – there are scientific reasons why you should ditch the keys and practice writing by hand every now and them.

Memory Increase

All through our lives we are taking in and retaining information. Whether it’s in college, university lectures, work meetings or just interesting talks, our minds are constantly soaking up information – but sometimes it can be difficult to keep that information in and recall it when we need it. So if you need to boost your memory or just want to be able to remember your notes clearly, then the best way to do it is by picking up a pen and writing them by hand. Professor and occupational therapist Katya Feder points out that you are much more likely to remember something if you have written it down – even of you lose the note. It’s a way of imprinting it on your memory for easier recall.

Learning Skills and Brain Development

When we are children first learning about words, writing is an essential skill. It helps us understand letters, build words and creates the foundation for our social and linguistic development. Every time we grasp that trusty pen we hark back to that important work we did as children. So to test this, a group of researchers gathered together a focus group of children who were just at the age of learning to write. They put these children into MRI’s, and used neuroimaging scans to measure their brain activity. Once they had their baselines, they split the children into two groups – one which learnt to write, and one that carried on with verbal learning and no writing. After a few weeks, the researchers scanned their brains again, and found that the children who engaged in writing and practiced demonstrated increased adult level brain activity, which was not seen in the control group of verbal learning children. So the process of learning and practicing to write is what helps our brain develop faster, and helps us make the transition to mature ways of thinking smoothly.

Cognitive Enhancements

As vital as tapping and swiping on screens has become in our day to day lives, they don’t do much to stimulate our brains. Every movement has a set of stimuli in our brains, and the actions of typing or swiping are very minor – they barely light up an MRI. Writing however is a different story. The chemical messaging that goes on in your brain when you grip a pen, apply it to paper and move it around to form words is much more complex, stimulating and engaging the cognitive parts of your brain in a unique way. Much more exciting that just tapping on some keys!

Fine Motor Skills

It should come as no surprise then that writing is strongly linked to our fine motor skills. The intricacies of grasping a pen and creating the letters that make the words we want to use is head and shoulders above typing letters on a keyboard, and is much better for us. By practicing writing by hand regularly, it enhances our dexterity and our skills with physical and detailed work, which in turn strengthens those areas of our brain. This is the main reason writing is used as a form of physical therapy for those who have damaged or reduced fine motor skills from accidents or defects. By repeating this simple task, they are able to slowly strengthen their skills and rebuild the connections that allow complex tasks.

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