Doodling and attention
Like a perpetually active toddler, the human brain constantly demands stimulation. When you’re in a setting that’s noticeably devoid of stimuli (say, on a long plane ride, or in an ultra-boring meeting) your brain compensates by creating its own stimulation in the form of daydreams. And while zoning out is a fine way to pass the time, it’s a dismal way to absorb information. Doodling, on the other hand, engages the brain’s planning and concentration centers just enough to keep you living in the moment—and according to some researchers, it may be even more effective for retaining information than active listening. In one study in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, subjects who monitored a monotonous phone message for names of party guests recalled 29 percent more information later if they were doodling during the call. Meanwhile, in a 2012 study of science students who were asked to draw what they learned during lectures and reading sessions, doodlers not only retained more information, but also reported more enjoyment and engagement with the material. Check out these benefits of using an adult coloring book.
Doodling and memory
In general, multitasking lowers cognitive performance on tasks, makes you think harder than you have to, and decreases productivity. However, recent experiments out of Waterloo University suggest that doodling might be an exception. In a series of tests, subjects were given 40 seconds to either draw a word in detail or write it by hand as many times as they could. When quizzed later, doodlers recalled more than twice as many words as writers did. Give this a try in your next meeting: Don’t just write down the crucial points—draw them.