How Can Writing Change Your Brain Activity?
We write something each day, a note, a grocery list, a journal, or even a story for those of us that are creative. How often, though, do we acknowledge the effects of writing - the benefits that writing provides for our brains? This article looks at how writing has a positive influence on our brains.
From helping us have a meditative, focused mind, to being able to remember things more accurately, there are many benefits to be enjoyed!
Despite being something that’s usually done on a regular basis and seen as something that cannot have a profound effect, writing shapes our brains in ways that are not easily noticeable even under a microscope, and they also take the time to manifest in us.
We shall look at all the effects that writing has on our brains and the different parts of the brain that become engaged whenever we pick up the pen to write something down. We shall also look at some interesting facts that are associated with writing.
The Frontal Lobe
Whenever we write or speak, we involve our frontal lobe. This part of the brain is responsible for reasoning, planning, making judgments, problem-solving, and movements.
The Parietal Lobe
This part of our brain is also associated with writing. The parietal lobe also does the interpreting of words and languages. People who suffer from dysfunctions of this part of the brain have a hard time writing things down and spelling words.
So How Does Writing Help Us To Remember?
When we write things down, we stimulate a number of cells below our brain commonly known as the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS functions as a filter for everything that comes into your brain and needs processing. It gives all the attention to what we are focused on at the moment.
The act of writing transports the data to the front and activates our brain so we pay attention. You have probably heard that if you want to remember something, you should put it down in writing. Also, in school, teachers emphasize that each and every student writes their own notes despite having a textbook or a handout. Have you ever asked yourself why?
As we’ve just showed, various parts of the brain are involved. Also, as you write, you tend to say, though not aloud, whatever it is that you’re writing. All this effort makes things stick better than if you were just listening. Besides, you’ll also have somewhere to refer to in case you don’t really remember what you wrote. How many times have you had to look for that piece of paper or notebook that you scribbled something on, but you just can’t exactly recall what you wrote…you just know that you did? See the power of writing things down?
Why Telling a Tale Is More Important Than the Facts
When you pay attention to a PowerPoint lecture that’s formatted in bullet form, two parts of the brain are triggered, namely, the Wernicke’s and Broca's area. These are basically the areas in your brain where language processing is done and words are given meaning and nothing else.
When a story is told, those language centers in the brain are not only triggered but are also associated with the coming to life or visualization of the story being told.
For instance, when there is punching or sprinting in the story, the motor cortex in our brains will be triggered. When the are mentions of someone’s “hands like stones” in the story, our sensory response will be triggered. Our brains react as if we are experiencing the story first hand!
Scientists have come to find out that hearing a story can be a source of ideas, emotions, and thoughts for the listener. Some studies show that when brain waves of a lady telling a tale and brain waves of her listeners were monitored, her audience’s brain waves went into sync with hers as she narrated her story.
This concludes that writers have the ability to influence their audience. With an evocative and mind-boggling story, we can trigger our readers’ brains and make them feel as if they are there experiencing the events first hand, thus having a hand in the emotions that you want them to feel.
Researchers in Europe did a study on the brain and how it would react to an array of different types of words. They found out that regular phrases like “love is blind” have become common to our brains up to the point that they are seen just as words and nothing more.
Such clichés might have triggered a sensory response in the brain when they were first introduced to it, but since the reader has seen them on many occasions before, they no longer have the same effect.
This is why good writers avoid such clichés as much as they can in favor of new and creative ways to trigger the readers’ senses. Come up with something that your audience hasn’t heard so many times before, or make them appreciate something that they’ve always known through a different angle or perspective that they hadn’t thought of.
More Facts about Effects of Writing on the Brain
When trying new writing material (a pen) for the first time, most people will pen down their names. Reading has proven to be a better way of improving our vocabulary (and therefore, our writing) as compared to other activities such as watching television. Pieces of literature contain more precious words than television.
A literacy study conducted on teenagers came to find out that they could not read well enough to comprehend their exam papers. The findings suggest that most teenagers have a reading age of less than 11 years.
Writing can have the same results on the brain as meditation. Our breathing slows down and we enter a “zone” in which words can easily flow from our minds. This can be a good way of de-stressing.
All the mind shaping tools can be disregarded by the brain if a cliché is inserted into the mix. Phrases like “love is blind” or “a dumb blonde” are skipped by our brains and it regards them as just a collection of words and nothing more. Clichés have become so familiar that our senses no longer react to them or feel moved by them as they would have previously.
Writing can heavily influence readers. As we have seen, storytellers have the ability to plant emotions, ideas, and thoughts into the brains of a listener. On the part of the writer, it can help improve the language, vocabulary, expression of thoughts, and can also be a way of blowing off some steam!There you have it, folks. Let's do more writing so as to shape our minds in more positive way. Whether you want to be a writer, for example, when writing your dissertation, or you want to be a better speaker, writing more and more will help you learn how to invoke your audience’s thoughts and make
About the Author
I work as an educator at Jacksonville University. I'm always ready to help students, sharing my experience and tips on particular subjects.
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