Comment l’écriture améliore la longévité cognitive ?

How does writing improve cognitive longevity?

How does writing improve cognitive longevity?

Handwriting is lost, alas! since the arrival of computers and keyboards which replaced the nice notebook, the diary and the beautiful pen of our adolescence. And yet, writing is necessary for us since it improves our cognitive longevity. Let's find out why experts recommend taking handwritten notes or writing letters using a pad of paper and a pen

What is the relationship between the hand, writing and the brain?

Let us question the link that unites the hand, writing and the brain in cognitive exchanges. Taking notes using a pen is a real tool which, in addition to helping to record information, allows you to integrate it, analyze it, process it and then record it.
When taking notes from a computer keyboard, studies show that our brains do not process information in the same way. This computerized note-taking is called “non-generative note-taking” which can be defined by the abandonment of a cognitive engagement between what we hear (during a lecture for example) and the note taken. from a keyboard.

Cognitive engagement and handwritten note taking

Let's keep the example of the lecture in the university lecture hall. The part of the presentation that we want to keep in our notebook goes through this additional step which is generative note-taking. It allows us to learn and therefore retain what we have heard.
Why is it called generative note-taking? Quite simply because it integrates into its implementation:

• the brain which gives logic to what we hear,
• the reflection that occurs once the logic is integrated;
• understanding this logic;
• taking handwritten notes which reflect our understanding;
• learning the part heard and then noted.

This study of the sequences demonstrates that there is therefore an initial mental note-taking which is then transcribed after going through the different stages above.

Why do writers and editors use handwritten note taking?
The magazine Rédaction Zen, dedicated to beginners or experienced web writers, brings together many professionals who explain, for the majority of them, how to prepare their plan for writing a text using a notebook and pen. In this way, they determine the titles of their paragraphs by going through the stage of reflection, then understanding the flow of the future text to arrive at the development of the final plan.

Thus the reflection evolves concomitantly, with the generation of ideas which will ultimately be found in the composition of the text. We clearly see here the importance of this generative note which allows the web editor to define the structure of her text while mentally creating the content of each paragraph.

It is the same for certain writers who love, above all else, writing their novels by hand and have no desire to work on a computer for anything in the world. They all specify that they can thus better understand a situation, bring a character to life or develop an action within their future publication.

From reflection comes writing: the case of the child

Without in-depth reflection and learning, there is no writing! This is where the hand and its ability to write come into play. A child learns to hold a pen and then draw lines. He then begins learning the letters: the tracing, the agreement of two letters within them to form a sound, the sequence of words, then sentences.
His brain therefore gradually learns to integrate what it hears or sees through the handwritten expression. From this transcription then comes the learning of the lessons. It is not uncommon to see a child remember when he wrote such a sentence, as if the brain made a point of remembering each moment of note-taking.

Link between writing, drawing, listening and understanding

The adult has obviously integrated these different stages for a long time. He will then put into action various additional levers of understanding which are often acquired during school:
• drawing or diagram to visually explain a particular point;
• listening to an audio recording to listen to teaching again;
• writing down what he saw and heard for synthesis and learning.
You will have understood, we need to write to integrate deeper and sometimes more complicated concepts, where only listening or visualization is not enough.

Why is writing essential as you get older?

We know that our neurons have the unfortunate tendency to disappear over the years. The more these are numerous, the better our cognitive longevity. Simply put, the more we exercise our brain and train it regularly, the more we delay the effects of aging.

But the benefits of writing don't stop there since by holding our pen, we work on our fine motor skills. The regularity of writing, the height and formation of letters as well as the unconscious movements that allow us to differentiate one writing from another, all have the same origin: our brain. This conductor reserves a large place for the hand in its organization within the cortex, in the same way as the face and the tongue, but much less for the lower limbs. We then speak of cortical representation, which corresponds to a more or less important area within our brain.

Real sports training

Thus, it is a real sporting training that elderly people must put their brain through to maintain a coordinated and joint cerebral structure that we find in the three actions induced by handwriting:
• perception: it corresponds to the capture of stimuli such as the sheet of paper, the pen and the primary organization (or intention) of note-taking;
• the decision to write: this puts into action the first step towards planning writing;
• the execution itself: the whole brain and hand which coordinate for written production.
How to train to maintain cognitive longevity through writing?
Only one answer: write regularly. The more contact you have with paper and pen, the more your brain will be trained and your cognitive longevity perpetuated.

If this answer actually seems quite simplistic, the fact remains that you will have to find themes for your writing training, apart from your shopping list of course.

Writing life moments is the most common theme and often also the easiest. To do this, buy a nice notebook, a pen or a felt-tip pen that fits your hand and allocate an hour or two per week (or more if you're into it) of your schedule to this activity.

If you have grandchildren, you can also invent and write a story or poem to read to them before bed or on their birthday. They will keep this handwritten text for a long time as one of the most beautiful memories of their childhood.

Why not start writing a short story, or even a novel for the bravest among you? As you can see, we can write about different, but quite exciting topics.
It's up to you to play, no, sorry, to write!

Back to blog