cognition

More on pen & paper

Remember when I explained why I prefer reading on paper? I often like writing on paper too, although I usually limit that to mapping ideas/concepts (which I sometimes do on a whiteboard of course - involving even more of my body in the cognitive process) and note taking, rather than writing text for a paper, for example. Well, more evidence is coming our way that paper is superior for note taking, encouraging sparser but more thoughtful notes which created deeper understanding both immediatly and a week after, while notetaking on a laptop is more verbose but also more verbatim, a mindless recording of what words were spoken without considering more thoroughly what was said.

Those who took notes in longhand, and were able to study, did significantly better than any of the other students in the experiment -- better even than the fleet typists who had basically transcribed the lectures. That is, they took fewer notes overall with less verbatim recording, but they nevertheless did better on both factual learning and higher-order conceptual learning. 

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Why I still prefer to read on paper

Reading on paper is to me a more immersive experience. It's allows me to focus on just the meaning of the text and nothing else. I like to underline and make notes, which is more of a tactile experience on paper, which helps with remembering. A lot of what I read is on screens though, and I often use my Kindle app or similar because not needing shelf space and not having to ship from the US is also a good thing. But for understanding, paper is best.
Turns out it's not just my personal preference, but I have science on my side as well. :)
Studies in the past two decades indicate that people often understand and remember text on paper better than on a screen. Preliminary research suggests that even so-called digital natives are more likely to recall the gist of a story when they read it on paper because enhanced e-books and e-readers themselves are too distracting. Paper's greatest strength may be its simplicity.
Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done.

Scientific American: Why the brain prefers paper