Handwriting Increases Cognition and Coordination

Patient gives thumbs up after wellness checkHandwriting for Brain Health

Start the year off right; focus on improving your mental and physical health, along with occasionally handwriting a note, in cursive or calligraphy. In maintaining our body’s health, our body’s central processing unit (CPU), the brain, is extremely important. Not only does it make conscious and unconscious decisions for you daily but also manipulates incoming and outgoing data.

Therefore, our brains still need neural coaching to remain healthy and active. Like we have heard time and time again, “if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.” Writing in cursive will do the trick and much better than printing text. Cursive writing requires greater motor skills, eye tracking, concentration, speed, and accuracy. This, in turn, activates areas of the brain, not used when we speak or type messages with our thumbs. Because we collect, process, and retrieve information in snippets, this exercise is especially important.

Handwriting Research

Johns Hopkins University performed a with stroke patients that answered some questions regarding the connection between speaking and writing. The researchers discovered that some of the patients who had trouble writing sentences with correct word endings had no difficulty in speaking the same sentences. In contrast, one patient exhibited no difficulties in handwriting but trouble speaking.Picture of handwriting

The handwriting difficulties  were with word endings, such as -er, ing, and -s (for plurals). The patients used incorrect word endings when writing the same sentences, they spoke without difficulties.

Write Me

Remember, our brains are hunter-gatherers of information and retrieved memories are also snippets that must be pieced back together. So much processing is needed, hence lightening speed neural connections, so what better reason to stay healthy and keep exercising your brains! Send me a handwritten note, PO Box 486, 62864, I would love to read your “cursive” thoughts!

Wishing you much health and happiness,

Michelle Doscher, Ph.D.

The Power of Suggestion

Although amazing, our hippocampus and amygdala have their limitations.  Both are a part of our brain’s limbic system, and both play roles in our memory systems. The synergy between the two are suspected to play a significant role in the long-term storage of emotional memories.  Yet, according to J.E. LeDoux, “Emotions are conscious products of unconscious processes.” Here is the kicker and reason for this post.

Emotions influence our declarative memories, and leave remnants of consequences from our emotional responses. These neural transmissions sometimes bypass the usual (longer) route for memory storage and recollection. Hence, this explains why a particular sound or smell may evoke a feeling of anxiousness, without you completely understanding or remembering the event responsible for the behavioral response.  Without corroboration of physical evidence, verifying reported memories can be difficult.  However, this does not mean  they are not true.

Unfortunately, research studies have demonstrated guided retrieval of memories can appear genuine to participants, especially when the participant feels pressured to remember a difficult-to-recall event.  A suggestion as simple as, “imagine this event and the sights and sounds around you, but don’t worry about the accuracy of your memories”, has been shown to elicit completely false memories or disassociated memories.

False memories of events never occurred, whereas disassociated memories are truthful and guided components of memories that meld into one memory. Previous truthful components of memories and guided components become indistinguishable.  The power of suggestion is noteworthy.

~ Dr. Michelle Doscher