Back in school, we all used to doodle — and even now as adults, we often scribble a design or two when putting on hold or while sitting in a meeting. Although this absent-minded activity appears to be nothing more than doodled lines and shapes, it may actually benefit your brain.
Research Suggests — Doodling Isn’t a Waste of Time
When you are doodling on a piece of paper, you are more than likely ‘killing’ time — which may seem fairly unproductive. I mean, all you’re doing is scribbling, right?
Well, according to some studies over the past few years, doodling is now being seen in a whole new light. In fact, neuroscience research shows that this activity may actually increase focus, learning, and memory — not to mention creativity, as you work your brain’s higher-level executive control centers.
After all, a blank page is a canvas that allows you to express your own thoughts and designs. Whether you’re mindlessly drawing abstract shapes or a portrait, doodling is considered to be spontaneous drawings that take on many forms. Although doodling certainly helps pass the time and can help one organize their thoughts, it may also directly influence your brain.
Perhaps one of the most influential studies on this topic was a 2009 case study, published in Applied Cognitive Psychology. Within this study, 40 participants listened to a telephone message. Half of the group was assigned to a ‘doodling’ condition, where they were asked to shade shapes while they listened.
What the researchers found, was that when the participants were given a surprise memory test, those who were doodling, remembered 29 percent more than the control group. What they concluded, was that unlike many dual-task situations, doodling while working can actually be beneficial regarding cognition and productivity.
What Else Does the Research Say?
Although this study was an exciting one, research on this topic did not end there. When it comes to entrepreneurship, for instance, these individuals are often highly creative thinkers and visionaries. The truth is, we’re all capable of thinking creatively, however, daily life often blocks our ability to express ourselves in a creative manner.
When you put your pen to paper and start drawing, this can help you develop new concepts and ideas, allowing you to stay focused on the task at hand. What may start as a good idea, could quickly be refined into an amazing idea — simply by doodling. As we scribble away, we engage certain ‘default networks.’
Meaning, without any external stimuli, these pathways typically go dormant. As you scribble away, you utilize these pathways, allowing for greater insight, concentration, and information retention. This is why researchers believe that doodling encourages effective problem solving, as your brain analyze information in a new light — potentially leading to that ‘ah-ha’ moment.
Similarly, for those who would like to expand their creativity this upcoming year, journaling can also be highly beneficial. As you write, you access your left brain — which is highly analytical and rational, leaving your right brain free to feel and create.
Basically, this past time can help you remove any mental blocks so that you can enhance your brainpower; and as the author, Christina Baldwin says, “Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.” So, whether you’re doodling in a meeting or sketching in your journal, allow yourself to utilize the power of creativity and enhanced brain function — one scribble at a time.
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