When you think about the best ways to enrich your brain…. What comes to mind? If you’re like most people, the answer is usually “reading” or “writing.”
However, those activities are just scratching the surface of how you can impact and strengthen your brain. And one of the most important impacts many people focus on strengthening is memory.
Memory is a big concern for people when it comes to their brain health, and for good reason.
Alzheimers and dementia are very serious struggles to be diagnosed with, but even beyond that, people are struggling with memory in sneakier, subtler ways due to aging….
For instance, the number of milliseconds it takes your brain to process something makes a HUGE difference. To put in perspective – light gets processed in 50 milliseconds, sound in 100 milliseconds, and thought processing in 300 milliseconds.
And it only takes a total lag of 400 milliseconds for you to be completely unable of logical thought. That’s just a difference of 100 milliseconds.
Even worse? Due to the natural process of aging, you lose 7 to 10 milliseconds of brain speed every 10 years after turning 20.
Thankfully there’s a really great way to help improve your memory and memory recall that will challenge and strengthen your brain, perhaps even more so than reading or writing.
And you probably guessed it! A 2018 study confirms that DRAWING can actually be stronger than reading or writing for improving memory recall because of the way drawing forces your brain to process information in more ways than one.
For example, when someone draws a concept instead of just writing it down, they “must elaborate on its meaning and semantic features, engage in the actual hand movements needed for drawing (motor action), and visually inspect [the] created picture (pictorial processing).”
So how did the 2018 study prove that drawing helps improve memory?
Memory experts Myra Fernandes, Jeffrey Wammes, and Melissa Meade based the study around the desire to better understand how different activities would affect students’ abilities to recall information they’ve learned. That included activities like writing, imagery, lectures, and drawing.
In one of the first experiments, participating students were asked to study a list of commonly used words (think words like truck, or pear).
Students were then asked to write those words down or draw the word out as they studied the list. When the students were asked to recall the list of words afterward, researchers found that students could recall 20% of the words they had written down, but could remember a whopping 45% of the words they had drawn. That’s a huge difference.
In another experiment, the researchers had students taking notes in 2 different ways during a lecture. One way was to draw out definitions that the lecture provided. The other way was to take written notes of those definitions.
Researchers found that students who drew their notes to visually represent the definition of a word had a recall almost twice as good as when students simply took written notes on the definitions. Drawing was confirmed to be “an effective and reliable encoding strategy, far superior to writing.”
And here’s the BEST part.
It did NOT matter how artistically inclined the student was.
That means drawing can help enforce memory regardless of how good you are at drawing!
Across 8 different experiments, the study concluded that drawing is a reliable way to boost your memory performance.
The impact of this study could be tenfold when you consider the implication of using drawing as a method to support those with already declining memory.
Early research is suggesting that it can greatly improve performance for both persons struggling with a dementia diagnosis and for all others going through the process of aging.
How will YOU take drawing a step further to help improve your memory and keep your brain strong?
Let us know in the comments, and go to https://www.edutopia.org/article/science-drawing-and-memory to learn more!