The Innovation Culture Bulletin: The Thinking Hand

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The Thinking Hand: How working by hand can improve cognitive thinking

“The hand often takes the lead in probing for a vision of the vague inkling that it eventually turns into a sketch, a materialization of an idea.” — Juhani Pallasmaa.


With technology now offering faster, more efficient ways of creating, the need for writing and drawing by hand is quickly diminishing — when was the last time you wrote something longer than a grocery list?

But what of it? Many of us believe that typing allows us more time to think. However, psychologists and neuroscientists are discovering that writing by hand can actually increase our cognitive thinking. “Handwriting is a complex task which requires various skills — feeling the pen and paper, moving the writing implement, and directing movement by thought,” says a professor of developmental psychology.

What’s more, the paper offers greater freedom — one can invent different fonts, insert bespoke sketches and come up with formats that are not programmed in a computer. There is also a visual record of your creative process: where you crossed out words, changed around sentences, or developed an idea from A to B.

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