Great to know that this is a useful pastime – it keeps me sane when meetings run long, but it also helps us stay attuned… 🙂
WSJ: Research Shows That Doodling Helps People Stay Focused, Grasp New Concepts and Retain Information
Recent research in neuroscience, psychology and design shows that doodling can help people stay focused, grasp new concepts and retain information. A blank page also can serve as an extended playing field for the brain, allowing people to revise and improve on creative thoughts and ideas.
Doodles are spontaneous marks that can take many forms, from abstract patterns or designs to images of objects, landscapes, people or faces. Some people doodle by retracing words or letters, but doodling doesn’t include note-taking.
“It’s a thinking tool,” says Sunni Brown, an Austin, Texas, author of a new book, “The Doodle Revolution.” It can affect how we process information and solve problems, she says.
Doodling in meetings and lectures helps ease tension for Samantha Wilson, a high-school teacher and graduate student from Southborough, Mass. Drawing squiggly patterns that are “very vegetal, scrolling and organic,” with shaded blocks and spirals in red and blue pen on paper, also allays boredom, she says.
“It looks like I’m spacing out when I’m doodling, but I’m actually making my thoughts come together, solidifying my own ideas,” Ms. Wilson says. Doodling recently helped her come up with a theme for a paper in a graduate-school course she is taking, she says.
Some researchers suspect doodling may help the brain remain active by engaging its “default networks”—regions that maintain a baseline of activity in the cerebral cortex when outside stimuli are absent, the Lancet study says. People who were encouraged to doodle while listening to a list of people’s names being read were able to remember 29% more of the information on a surprise quiz later, according to a 2009 study in Applied Cognitive Psychology.