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10 Expert Facts about the Brain and Writing

by Nicky Quinton
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facts about the brain and writing

The brain is the most mysterious and complex organ in the body. Neuroscientists have been trying to reveal its secrets for a very long time.

Yet, they’ve managed only to glimpse the interplay of unbelievable, hidden mechanisms of the human brain.

Many theories still remain unproven, and we may only make suggestions about how the brain functions.

However, scientists have debunked many common misconceptions and myths related to the topic of human cognitive and intellectual abilities.

facts about the brain and writing

For example, now, we know for sure that humans use much more than 10% of the brain.  

A large part of the brain works constantly, but the majority of functions and processes are still a total mystery.

Even if we use more than 10% of the brain, we still don’t know more than 10% about it.

In the article below, we’ll reveal 10 fascinating facts about the brain and writing.

You may have heard about some of them, but some of them will definitely surprise you. Get ready to know more about what’s happening in your head when you put a pen to paper!

No. 1: Facts about the Brain and Writing | Writing is a Sport for Your Brain.

Everyone knows that the brain can be trained just as your muscles can.

We can improve our mental agility, focus, attention, problem-solving skills, logic, analytical reasoning, and other essential abilities.

Of course, we can install a plethora of mobile applications aimed at developing the brain’s functions, or take some kind of course.

facts about the brain and writing

But, the easiest and most accessible way to train your brain is by writing.

A group of scientists led by Martin Lotze has found out that the brain activity of professional writers is similar to the brain activity of sportsmen during a game.

These observations are applicable to creative writing.

When we write down a story, our brains activate a wide range of regions.

The vision-processing regions start working actively when we imagine the scenes that we want to describe.

When we want to find some background information connected with the plot, we use the hippocampus.

Holding a few pieces of information in the brain at the same time also requires activating a specific region.

The experiment has also shown one more exciting correlation between brain activity and the experience of writers.

Novices use visual centers to imagine the fragments of their story. More experienced writers use speech regions more actively to narrate the story in their head before writing.

No. 2: Facts about the Brain and Writing | Broca’s Area Controls the Writing Process

All the scientific theories related to brain activity are hard to prove.

But thanks to modern technologies, such as MRI scanners, we can make interesting discoveries.

Although we use most of the brain’s capacity all the time, specific regions function more intensively during certain activities.

facts about the brain and writing
Broca’s Area shown in Red | By Polygon data were generated by Database Center for Life Science(DBCLS)[2]. – Polygon data are from BodyParts3D[1], CC BY-SA 2.1 jp, Link

This relation has helped neuroscientists to establish a link between brain regions and their “areas of responsibility.”

The brain has two hemispheres — left and right. Each hemisphere is divided into four big lobes: temporal, parietal, frontal, and occipital.

In the frontal lobe, we have a special region called Broca’s area.

This area was discovered by the French anthropologist and surgeon Pierre Paul Broca. This region is responsible for the production of speech and writing. If Broca’s area is damaged, a person can’t stick to grammar and syntax rules.

No. 3: Facts about the Brain and Writing | Writing Makes You Smarter

Dr. William Klemm in his article for Psychology Today claims that writing by hand is important for cognitive development.

When we write with a pen, we have to put more effort than when we type.

We have to control our fingers to get accurate written lines. Our neural activity is more intense when we use a pen and paper to take notes.

facts about the brain and writing

We aren’t limited with the font and form, as the brain picks the appropriate form for letters while writing.

Professor of educational psychology, Virginia Berninger, discovered that pupils express more original ideas in less time when they write their essays by hand.

Writing helps us to structure the information and memorize it. No wonder that creative teams take notes and draw during brainstorming sessions.

Writing makes our ideas more real, and it becomes easier to work with them. The benefits of writing for our cognitive development and improvement are obvious.

No. 4: Facts about the Brain and Writing | Taking Notes Boosts Your Memory and Conceptual Learning

Modern technologies are, no doubt, beneficial for humanity. They make everything easier: traveling, searching for information, communication, job searching, shopping, etc.

But what if some technologies have a bad influence on our cognitive skills?

facts about the brain and writing

Psychological scientists Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer decided to find out which way to take notes during a lecture is better — longhand or typing. The result of their experiments is amazing.

During the first experiment, two groups of students listened to the same lecture. One group took traditional notes, while another used laptops to write them.

Scientists asked students to use their usual note-taking strategy. In half an hour after the lecture, both groups were tested for factual and conceptual learning.

During the second experiment, the break between the lecture and the exam was much longer — one week. All of the students were warned about the exam before the lecture.

Both experiments have shown that longhand is a much more efficient way to take notes than typing.

Even though the students with laptops managed to create detailed transcriptions of the lecture, their results in memorizing facts and ideas were worse.

No. 5: Facts about the Brain and Writing | Writing Requires Multiple Cognitive Skills

Writing seems like a simple, and perhaps even boring, activity for us. But we have forgotten how hard this process was when we were kids.

Writing requires multiple cognitive skills: eye-hand coordination, language, memory, creativity, insight, logic, spatial intelligence, and abstract thought.

It is a complex linguistic technology, and people were not always able to write.

Take a closer look at the process of writing.

Firstly, we have to control our hand and fingers so that our handwriting is readable.

Secondly, we have to recall the form of each letter and replicate it in written form.

Finally, the brain has to keep the information that we’re writing “on the surface.”

That’s a brutally simplified version of what’s going on in your head, but you still can evaluate the complexity of the process.

At the same time, writing is a great exercise for the brain. It is reminiscent of a cardio workout, where you have to use a wide range of muscles at the same time.

No. 6: Facts about the Brain and Writing | Writing Contributes to Your Psychological Health

This fact isn’t about all types of writing; more specifically, it is about expressive writing.

Expressive writing is one of the popular ways to cope with stress, intense emotions, and anxiety.

According to a study at UCLA, expressing your feelings in a written form decreases the activity in the brain’s emotional center.

facts about the brain and writing

At the same time, the activity of the more “rational” part of the brain increases.

The researches conducted by psychologists James Pennebaker of the University of Texas and Joshua Smyth of Syracuse University have shown that writing is also beneficial for the immune system.

According to their conclusions, expressive writing improves physiological well-being and may remove the symptoms of some diseases.

Another study has shown that creative writing helps to cope with stress.

A chronic worrier’s brain works more effectively if they describe their worries and tasks in writing before they start working.

An experiment in New Zealand had a truly unbelievable result.

Journal writing helped patients to heal their physical wounds faster after facing traumatic experiences.

No. 7: Facts about the Brain and Writing | Writing Decreases the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

Doing sports and exercising allows us to live better and longer lives. But what about the brain?

If we can train our cognitive skills, it means that we also increase the brain’s longevity.

The investigation conducted by the National Institute on Aging has proved this statement.

Nuns were chosen as test subjects because they have a similar lifestyle. They wear the same clothes, eat the same food, and have the same daily routines.

facts about the brain and writing

Researchers studied 678 nuns who joined the order in their youth. Most had written a biographical essay at the average age of 22.

After estimating the quality of the essays, the researchers came to the following conclusion:

There is a direct correlation between a person’s writing skills and the chance of having Alzheimer’s disease in older age.
The better the writing abilities, the lower the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Only 10% of nuns with well-developed writing skills suffered from the disease in old age.

At the same time, 80% of nuns who had undeveloped writing skills ended up with Alzheimer’s.

No. 8: Facts about the Brain and Writing | Writing Helps to Develop Executive Function

Executive functions are a range of complex cognitive processes that enable behavior control.

facts about the brain and writing

The list of processes is quite long, but you should take a look at least at some of them to understand their importance:

Cognitive agility
Control of attention
Analytical reasoning
Risk assessment
Planning
Self-control
Emotional responses

As you’ve already realized, the development of executive functions is crucial for the normal functioning of an individual.

Writing stimulates many brain regions. It helps to understand complex concepts and material, as the brain process the information several times when a person is writing.

Longhand writing also boosts long-term memory and the ability to formulate ideas.

No. 9: Facts about the Brain and Writing | Writing Prevents Dropping Out of School

The main reasons for dropping out of school (excluding health and family issues) are boredom and stress.

Students don’t understand and process the teaching material, get bad grades, and feel stressed and insecure.

facts about the brain and writing

To keep getting high grades without studying, students use various techniques. Some of them cheat during tests, while others often opt for third party writing services through a quick Google search.

These companies provide academic assistance and help students to deal with their homework.

Experts compose well-written samples, and students can use them as examples for their own work.

Writing is another way to help the dropping out of the situation. When students write an essay, they get a deeper understanding of the topic.

Thus, they are more engaged and become more confident. Also, writing helps to process and memorize the information better and, therefore, aids students in passing tests successfully.

No. 10: Facts about the Brain and Writing | Writing Helps to Build Concept Networks

Conceptual networks are systems that allow us to categorize all the information that we receive and use it in different contexts.

facts about the brain and writing

In fact, the better these networks function, the more experienced a person becomes.

Writing helps us to store information in the best possible way and, therefore, recall it more efficiently.

We use prior knowledge to deal with everyday tasks and challenges.

Without conceptual networks, we wouldn’t be able to accumulate knowledge and develop in any sphere of life.

Facts about the Brain and Writing | Conclusion

Writing is almost a magical way to make your life better. Of course, there is no magic — everything can be explained by science.

Thanks to writing, we process the information, memorize it, and recall necessary information faster.

Expressive writing also helps us to deal with stress, anxiety, and worries. We feel more engaged and more interested in the topic if we write by hand.

In addition to all the benefits listed above, writing has one more amazing feature.

The words that are said are fleeting. And the words that we write down are forever.

Writing allows us to seize the moment and capture it on a piece of paper.

Writing allowed generations of people to transfer knowledge and concepts before the first computers were invented.

We should never underestimate the value of this ability and its importance for our common and individual progress.

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1 comment

Varun Sharma July 8, 2019 - 3:39 pm

Amazing post!! Thanks for sharing!!

Reply

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