Get Out Your Pen! Doodling May Help Your Memory

Do you find yourself forgetting things? New research shows that doodling while listening helps some people remember details.

In a study appearing in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, participants were given a doodling task while listening to a boring phone message.

Forty participants listened to a two and a half minute tape which gave several names of people and places. The participants were asked to write down the names of only the people going to a party. Half of the participants were given the task of shading in shapes on a piece of paper while listening to the message. None of the people participating in the study knew they were being given a memory test.

After the test was given, they were asked to write down the names of the eight people going to the party and also the eight names of places that were given. The people doing the doodling were able to remember on average 7.5 names of people and places, compared to the non-doodlers, who averaged remembering 5.8 of the people and places given.

The findings showed that the doodlers ability to remember details improved by 29 percent, compared to the participants that did not doodle.

“If someone is doing a boring task, like listening to a dull telephone conversation, they may start to daydream,” said study researcher Professor Jackie Andrade, Ph.D., of the School of Psychology, University of Plymouth. “Daydreaming distracts them from the task, resulting in poorer performance. A simple task, like doodling, may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task.”

“In psychology, tests of memory or attention will often use a second task to selectively block a particular mental process. If that process is important for the main cognitive task then performance will be impaired. My research shows that beneficial effects of secondary tasks, such as doodling, on concentration may offset the effects of selective blockade,” stated Andrade. “This study suggests that in everyday life doodling may be something we do because it helps to keep us on track with a boring task, rather than being an unnecessary distraction that we should try to resist doing.”

Today, February 27, is National Doodle Day. This day helps to raise awareness about neurofibromatosis and epilepsy. By providing information about these conditions, National Doodle Day seeks to give advice, information and support services. You can even check out some celebrity doodlings on their website.

So get out those pens and start doodling!

Source: Wiley-Blackwell