Handwriting Counts- Our Brain Knows It!!!

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I learned how to “script” at a very early age.  My great-grandfather was a calligrapher; and I was lucky enough to have wonderful training.  Of course, when I went to elementary school, my teachers were not all that thrilled, since there was this rule about “printing first”, but, rest assured, this was not the only problem I had with teachers and their rules of learning. To this day, I love writing with a fountain pen- which is one of the best ways (at least to me) to express yourself.  But, it turns out, that handwriting skills are critical for our development. (There is some discussion that handwriting is a useful cognitive skill to keep one mind’s sharp and other physicians believe that handwriting can provide a diagnostic for neurological disorders.)

Karin Harman James at Indiana University has been studying what effects teaching toddlers handwriting have on the brain.  Results were presented in Developmental Science (March 2010) that demonstrated enhanced neural activity.  James presented letters to the children before and after providing handwriting training, while monitoring their brain activity with fMRI. These images, which depict enhanced brain activity, indicate that learning occurred.

Dr. James (and Atwood) published results that demonstrated similar effects when adults are trained in graphically different languages (Chinese, mathematic symbols, music).  In that study, the adults were asked to examine characters and their mirror images via handwriting and computers.  When handwriting was involved, recognition was quicker than via computer input.

Virginia Berninger of  the University of Washington found that handwriting is different from typing, when it comes to the brain.  Handwriting requires sequential events to form a letter; typing involves key selection only. Imaging indicates that more of the brain is involved when the sequential finger movements are required.

The fMRI imaging prove that handwriting (or calligraphy) is more than communication; it improves idea development and expression, as well as augments fine motor-skill development.

So, stay sharp.   Bring out those fountain pens and practice!

You can see an example of my great-grandfather’s copyrighted material (he etched the faces of Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, among other items) here.

If this has inspired you, check out some of these sites: http://www.bfhhandwriting.com/manual.php, http://www.handwritingsuccess.com/resources.php, http://www.zaner-bloser.com/educator/products/handwriting/index.aspx?id=4290

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About RAAckerman@Cerebrations.biz

A polymath whose interests span chemical engineering, medicine, biotechnology, business, management, among other areas. Among my inventions/developments: dialyzer, dialysate, neurosurgical drill, respiratory inspirometer, colon electrolyte lavages, urinary catheters, cardiac catheters, water reuse systems, drinking water system, ammonia degrading microbes, toxic chemical reduction via microbes, onsite waste water treatment, electronic health care information systems, bookkeeping and accounting programs, among others.
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