I just saw an interesting study (mentioned in Wired — see “A Sketchy Brain Booster: Doodling”) published in Applied Cognitive Psychology concluding that doodling actually aids in concentration.

The article, “What Does Doodling Do?” by Jackie Andrade of the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth, UK, found that participants in an experiment could better remember a list of names read to them if they were performing a simultaneous task that simulated doodling.

What might be the underlying mechanism at work here? Andrade suggests two possibilities:

1. “that doodling simply helps to stabilize arousal at an optimal level, keeping people awake or reducing the high levels of autonomic arousal often associated with boredom”

or

2. “that doodling aids concentration by reducing daydreaming”

Both are interesting ideas and make me think of two current interests I have:

1. Idea mapping, sometimes called Mind Mapping (as propounded by educational consultant Tony Buzan). I have been employing this visual approach for several years now in note-taking, public speaking, writing, consulting, and group processes and have become convinced that drawing and mapping is a memory aid.

2. The language teaching methods of Harry Cotton of the Canadian Institute of English. Dr. Cotton advocates involving body movement to aid retention when learning to speak a foreign language.

AB — 27 February 2009

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