In this post we are going to answer the question ‘’What part of the brain controls handwriting?’’ We will explain in detail the writing process and how the brain is in charge of coordinating this highly specialized process.
What part of the brain controls handwriting?
The left hemisphere controls the writing.
Like all cognitive activities, the tasks in which writing is involved – from writing letters, syllables, and words to productive writing – depend on good brain function.
There are several reasons why it is important to understand the neural substrates of written language production. First, when it is effective, it serves the purpose of communication and effective performance in everyday life (eg, keeping a calendar, taking messages, taking written tests, taking notes, etc.).
Second, although it is often stated that reading is more necessary than writing, in recent years its importance has increased due to the rise of electronic communications (email, Internet, text messages, etc.).
Which implies that a deficit in writing can result in an important or significant impact on individuals, both in those who have acquired it through a brain injury and in those children who have developmental dysgraphia.
Third, the understanding of the neural substrates of the production of written language can help in the prognosis and even in the way of intervention of these difficulties in writing.
Writing and reading are the greatest inventions of mankind. This statement may surprise some people dazzled by the splendor and utility of certain technology products. None of these products would have been illuminated without those scribbles that represent concepts.
To speak of reading and writing is to tell the history of the thought of humanity, 6,000 years of written word.
Neurowriting system: The brain and writing
Most humans have their predominant language center in the left hemisphere of the brain, although signatures and other graphic pictograms are usually transferred or managed to take place in the right hemisphere.
Scientists are sure that communication must exist between the hemispheres because the essential image of the event, or the fact that must be done, is located in the right hemisphere and can be translated into language in the left hemisphere.
Anatomical, even scribbling a quick note to yourself … is a complex voluntary procedure, engaging the cooperation of all lobes of your cerebral cortex with other regions of your brain including the limbic system, the hippocampus, the brain stem, the cerebellum and finally the spinal cord, which sends impulses to your hands and fingers.
Currently new technological advances make manual writing little by little banished to the background. Handwriting is an excellent cognitive exercise that helps boost people’s intelligence and cognitive functions.
Writing requires the use of all brain structures working in a joint and coordinated manner, structures associated with thought, language and memory.
The act of writing requires a high level of specialization and hemispheric coordination, since it involves the integration of movement, touch, and ideas, necessary to translate our ideas into a physical medium. And therefore writing drives intelligence.
When we write we carry out the following mental activities:
- We organize ideas to translate them.
- We coordinate our sight with our movement of the hand.
- We synthesize our ideas.
The functions of the different brain lobes involved in the action of writing are as follows:
- Frontal lobe: it is responsible for the functions of reasoning and abstraction of what is going to be written and planning the arrangement in the medium.
- Temporal lobe: Phonological graphic discrimination, it is about identifying each sound with the letter that corresponds to it.
- Parietal lobe: Oculo-manual coordination to give rise to writing.
- Occipital lobe: Recognition of the different written letters.
The neuro-writing system is a complex and multi-component system. Writing involves the activation of various brain areas and their coordination.
The brain and the writing mechanism process
To illustrate brain participation in the main mechanisms of writing, let’s divide this process into three stages:
Brain perception and understanding
The first is the brain’s perception and understanding of the message as it is written. This function is performed by the primary auditory cerebral cortex of both hemispheres and by the associative temporal cortex of the left hemisphere.
When it comes to understanding visual messages, visual areas (primary and specific visual associative areas) are involved.
The second stage of the process is the transcoding of the message and is the most complex of the three. In it, the integrative processes of conversion of the messages perceived into written forms (words) are carried out.
The areas involved are two regions of the associative cortex, which is known as the left temporo-parieto-occipital junction.
Transmission of the message
In the last stage the message is transmitted to the primary motor cortex in order to specify the movement. There are many brain regions that participate in conjunction with these areas, providing supplementary but essential information.
For example, the hippocampus and the associative sensory cortex are essential in aspects related to memory, the right hemisphere in the spatial aspects and global vision of the written word, and the prefrontal zones in the executive functions involved (such as planning the text, maintaining the objective and achieving it, among others).
What are the benefits of handwriting for the brain?
With the advancement of technology, handwriting has been relegated to the background. However, when you know its benefits, you may decide to reincorporate it into your life.
Since the advent of computers and other electronic devices, handwriting has taken a back seat. Many people hardly use it in their day to day life, as the pen has been replaced by the keyboard.
However, it is possible that after learning the benefits of handwriting, you will return to this traditional method in some areas of your life.
Typing on a keyboard is faster, more comfortable, and easier. With this, we save time, but we also lose that personal imprint that each of us captures when writing by hand. It is precisely those qualities that seem advantageous to us, which make typing a less beneficial option for brain processes.
Better emotional state
The brain pathways involved in typing a letter already formed are different from those involved in drawing a letter stroke by stroke. Therefore, the connection that occurs with the emotional regions of the brain is much greater in handwriting.
This is a type of personal and emotion-focused writing that helps us connect with, recognize and manage our feelings.
An example of this is therapeutic writing. This consists of dedicating between 15 and 30 minutes a day to express our feelings in writing.
Those who do it regularly get physical and psychological benefits such as better immune function and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. The effects obtained by performing this exercise using a keyboard are not as favorable.
It was also found that writing by hand about a stressful life event arouses much higher emotional levels, which translates into greater therapeutic benefit.
These effects may not be as noticeable to younger generations, as they are more used to expressing themselves by typing. However, the emotional connection established will never be the same in both types of writing.
Memory and learning
The brain regions associated with learning are more active when people write by hand than when they do it with a keyboard. Writing by hand promotes deep coding of information and makes learning much more consolidated.
It is precisely the fact that handwriting is a slower and more elaborate process that facilitates learning, understanding and memorization of the content. It was found that students who take notes manually perform better.
And this is because handwriting (due to the longer time it takes) forces them to understand the material and rephrase it in their own words.
Take care of words and relationships
Typing makes words much easier and faster to produce. The consequence of this is that many times we do not take care of our words as much as we would when writing by hand.
The latter case forces us to slow down our writing process and allows us to take time to search and select the most appropriate words. In this way, it provides us with better self-expression.
Additionally, due to the effort, it requires and the personal stamp that it entails, handwritten texts are much more appreciated by people. As we can see, handwriting favors the care of written expression and social ties.
But, even, it has been observed that the doctor-patient relationship is benefited when the first take notes by hand. Compared to when it is done on the computer, in the first case a better therapeutic link is established between the two, with the benefits that this entails for the entire medical process.
For all the aforementioned, it is necessary to reevaluate what type of writing we want to use in our daily lives. Perhaps for work matters typing on a keyboard is much more practical and effective.
However, for processing emotional events, consolidating new information, or building human relationships, handwriting is more appropriate.
It is recommended that we be careful and aware of the advancement of technology and take care not to lose such beneficial activities as writing. Get into the habit of writing (even for short periods of time) on a regular basis and you will see the changes.
FAQS: What part of the brain controls handwriting?
What can affect your handwriting?
Pencil grip, laterality, and visual-motor coordination can also make it difficult for the child to learn writing correctly.
What is the connection between handwriting and brain development?
Handwriting is a mental exercise that constantly stimulates the development of neural connections and contributes to self-regulation, self-discipline, will and perseverance. Neuroscience has shown that handwriting contributes to brain expansion and boosting intelligence.
Is handwriting good for the brain?
Promotes creativity and critical thinking: By practicing handwriting, your brain’s neural activity increases, increasing your ability to solve problems.
Does MS affect your handwriting?
A study reports that a decline in the handwriting of multiple sclerosis patients is aligned with drops in their motor, sensory and cognitive abilities. MS requires hand dexterity loss and regulation of finger movement.
What does poor handwriting indicate?
Experts say that having bad handwriting indicates great agility and better mental skills. According to a study published in The American Journal of Psychology, those with poor handwriting tend to have a higher IQ than those with good handwriting.
Planton, S., Longcamp, M., Péran, P., Demonet, J. F., & Jucla, M. (2017). How specialized are writing-specific brain regions? An fMRI study of writing, drawing and oral spelling. Cortex, 88, 66-80.
Feder, K. P., & Majnemer, A. (2007). Handwriting development, competency, and intervention. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 49(4), 312-317.
Bounds, G. (2010). How handwriting trains the brain. The Wall Street Journal.