If you want to remember something, write it down—by hand.
A new study from the University of Tokyo concludes that writing with a stylus or typing on a touchscreen keyboard just isn’t the same as handwriting. “Our take-home message is to use paper notebooks for information you need to learn or memorize,” noted coauthor Kuniyoshi Sakai, a neuroscientist at the University of Tokyo.
Handwriting likely facilitates learning and memorization because of the numerous one-of-a-kind physical cues it provides: the shapes of your letters, the tactile feel of the paper and pen, the location of your words on the page, and details like folded corners, ink color, and other marks on the page. Your brain absorbs all of these pieces of information, which can later serve as triggers so that you more precisely pull the information from your memory.
By comparison, when you enter information into a phone or tablet, your words have no fixed position and then disappear when you close the app, leaving substantially less tactile and spatial information for your mind to absorb.