Cursive Handwriting Is Good For Your Brain, New Research Finds

Cursive Handwriting Is Good For Your Brain, New Research Finds

An EEG study by researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has revealed that not learning cursive writing can harm kids.

The year 2020 has opened up a new world where digital tools rule the roost and children are constantly reliant on digital devices for online and offline learning purposes. This new development has pushed several school systems to phase out cursive handwriting altogether. However, a new study has found that the new all-digital system can have disastrous consequences, an EEG study by a group of researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has revealed, reports Psychology Today.

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Published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, the EEG-based study has found that the old-fashioned cursive handwriting is essential even more so in the 21st-century digital world, as children may forget writing altogether within the next few generations if the school system fails to do. "Some schools in Norway have become completely digital and skip handwriting training altogether. Finnish schools are even more digitized than in Norway. Very few schools offer any handwriting training at all," Audrey van der Meer, a neuropsychology professor at NTNU, said in an October 1 press release. "Given the development of the last several years, we risk having one or more generations lose the ability to write by hand. Our research and that of others show that this would be a very unfortunate consequence of the increased digital activity."

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To conduct the study, Van der Meer and colleagues employed a high-density EEG monitoring system to study the brain's electrical activity of a group of 12-year-old children who were handwriting in cursive, drawing visually presented words using a digital pen on a screen, or with pencil and paper, or typewriting on a keyboard. Data gathered from the test revealed that cursive handwriting prepared the brain for better learning by syncing brain waves and stimulated more electrical activity in the brain's central and parietal lobe regions. The authors explained: "Existing literature suggests that such oscillatory neuronal activity in these particular brain areas is important for memory and for the encoding of new information and, therefore, provides the brain with optimal conditions for learning."




The new research follows a long line of existing studies on the positive benefits of cursive handwriting and why writing by hand is essential when it comes to learning. In 2012, two researchers, Karin James and Laura Engelhardt, employed neuroimaging to study the effects of handwriting on functional brain development in children. The duo found that handwriting stimulated a unique "reading circuit" that typing or tracing letter shapes didn't. "These findings demonstrate that handwriting is important for the early recruitment in letter processing of brain regions known to underlie successful reading. Handwriting, therefore, may facilitate reading acquisition in young children," the authors noted.

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The new study suggests that when children are encouraged to use cursive writing, will establish neuronal oscillation patterns that support the brain in learning. "We conclude that because of the benefits of sensory-motor integration due to the larger involvement of the senses as well as fine and precisely controlled hand movements when writing by hand and when drawing, it is vital to maintain both activities in a learning environment to facilitate and optimize learning," the researchers added.






Currently, van der Meer and her colleagues at NTNU are advocating policymakers to bring in guidelines to endure school children receive a basic level of handwriting training while adults are encouraged to continue writing by hand. "When you write your shopping list or lecture notes by hand, you simply remember the content better afterward," she said in the release. "The use of pen and paper gives the brain more 'hooks' to hang your memories on. Writing by hand creates much more activity in the sensorimotor parts of the brain," she added. "A lot of senses are activated by pressing the pen on paper, seeing the letters you write, and hearing the sound you make while writing. These sense experiences create contact between different parts of the brain and open the brain up for learning."



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