A recent study advocates for the humble pen against the computer keyboard.

Researchers have found evidence that writing by hand could enhance brain connectivity more significantly than tapping away on a keyboard.

As screens and keyboards become the mainstays of classrooms, handwriting is being quietly edged out. Yet the growing preference for keyboards overlooks the potential cognitive benefits of penmanship, according to a new study. 

A team led by Prof Audrey van der Meer from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology delved into the neural intricacies of these activities. 

Their study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, uses high-density EEG technology to monitor the brain's electrical signals for 36 university students tasked with writing or typing words as they appeared on a screen.

“We show that when writing by hand, brain connectivity patterns are far more elaborate than when typewriting on a keyboard,” Prof van der Meer says. 

This complex web of neural connections, critical for memory formation and information encoding, could drive handwriting's superiority in supporting learning.

This research not only highlights the richer sensory and motor experience of handwriting but also the limitations of typing. 

The repetitive motion of hitting keys does little to stimulate the brain, potentially explaining why children raised on tablets struggle with distinguishing mirrored letters like 'b' and 'd' – they have not physically felt the process of creating these letters.

The study implies that educators should reintroduce handwriting into learning environments to balance digital efficiency with cognitive development. 

While technological advancements cannot be ignored, the researchers advocate for a balanced approach that recognises the unique benefits of handwriting, especially in early education.