If you’re someone who doodles during long meetings, speeches or presentations, you may have an advantage over people who don’t. Harvard’s Dr. Srini Pillay says doodling might be the key to staying focused when the brain wants to shut down.
He sites a 2009 study that compared doodlers to people who just sat and listened to a rambling voicemail message. Those whose hands were engaged in drawing recalled 29% more information. The mystery is why.
It is believed that doodling is a form of fidgeting – which keeps the brain awake and attentive. The brain would shut down more quickly without this physical activity. Doodling may also relieve psychological distress, making it easier to attend to things. Spontaneous drawing could help fill in gaps when you’re listening to an incoherent story. By doing so, your stick figures might be creating a greater sense of meaning that allows you to feel more relaxed. The result: better concentration.