Need To Remember? Pen & Paper Works Better Than Your Device!

With school right around the corner, it feels like there’s a new appointment to schedule every few days: sports physical for my high schooler, immunization updates for my little girl, back-to-school night, meet-the-coaches, dental appointments…who can keep up? Smartphones might seem like the best way to stay organized, but new research shows that the good ol’ pen and paper method works better for our brains!

According to new research from Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, participants who wrote scheduling information down with pen and paper had more accurate recall than those who recorded the information on a tablet or smartphone. Scientists assessed three groups of participants (those using digital tablet, phone, or pen and paper) using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), memory recall, and data retrieval efficiency to analyze which process was the most effective.

The significant superiority in both accuracy and activations for the Note group suggested that the use of a paper notebook promoted the acquisition of rich encoding information and/or spatial information of real papers and that this information could be utilized as effective retrieval clues, leading to higher activations in these specific regions.”

What does all that scientific jargon mean? It means the pen and paper (“Note”) group remembered more of the scheduling information and more efficiently retrieved the scheduling information than their counterparts who used a tablet or smartphone to record the appointments.

My head is spinning with upcoming appointments, but now I’m reassured I can keep up!
It’s time to grab my handy-dandy notebook and get myself organized!

MBJ
Terissa Michele Miller, MS Psy

Check out the original research:
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnbeh.2021.634158/full