Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Doodlers of the world, rejoice. Scientific proof of what we all already knew has arrived. A study comparing the retention of facts between doodlers and non-doodlers produced a lopsided victory for the irreparably sketchy. Doodlers were almost 30% better in the test, in fact. Why?

Why does doodling aid memory? Andrade offers several theories, but the most persuasive is that when you doodle, you don't daydream. Daydreaming may seem absentminded and pointless, but it actually demands a lot of the brain's processing power. You start daydreaming about a vacation, which leads you to think about potential destinations, how you would pay for the trip, whether you could get the flight upgraded, how you might score a bigger hotel room. These cognitions require what psychologists call "executive functioning" — for example, planning for the future and comparing costs and benefits.

Doodling, in contrast, requires very few executive resources but just enough cognitive effort to keep you from daydreaming, which — if unchecked — will jump-start activity in cortical networks that will keep you from remembering what's going on. Doodling forces your brain to expend just enough energy to stop it from daydreaming but not so much that you don't pay attention.
The moral of this story is that you should stop looking at me that way when you see me drawing cubes and checker patterns during meetings. I'm concentrating.

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