19 March 2009

Doodle but don’t daydream

Researchers at the University of Plymouth have discovered that doodling can aid memory. The researchers played a dull 2.5 minute recording to people and then asked them to recall the names of the people named during the recording. Half of the group were asked to simply sit and listen while the other half were asked to shade in some boxes with a pencil while listening.

On average the doodlers recalled 7.5 names compared to the non-doodlers who recalled just 5.8.
The researchers concluded that the effects were caused by the doodling preventing the subjects from day-dreaming, which is far more detrimental to the effective working of your memory.

Professor Anchade, whose findings are published in Applied Cognitive Psychology said “Daydreaming distracts people from the task, resulting in poorer performance. A simple task like doodling may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task?”

Far from distracting us, doodling may therefore be a rational way of improving concentration.

Do you doodle?


  1. Very interesting but it makes me wonder whether doodling when the subject being listened to is of interest would serve as a distraction rather than a memory enhancer. If not then the problem remains that doodling demonstrates to the person speaking that you are finding them dull and boring.

  2. I would have thought that the fact that you are doing two things at once might be a factor, as we know that memory is enhanced by forming associations. The doodle, no matter how inane, involves the movement of the hand, arm and eyes and a visual image which the memory can associate with whatever the person is hearing.

  3. I think we should all doodle during Board Meetings as I have often thought the team “Board Meeting” very apposite.

  4. I'll have plenty of opportunity to test the theory next week.....


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