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The Stalls of Higher Thought

Sketching During Meetings Improves Focus and Recall

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pencildoodleWired: Good news, doodlers: What your colleagues consider a distracting, time-wasting habit may actually give you a leg up on them by helping you pay attention.

Asked to remember names they’d heard on a recording, people who doodled while listening had better recall than those who didn’t. This suggests that a slightly distracting secondary task may actually improve concentration during the performance of dull tasks that would otherwise cause a mind to wander.

“People may doodle as a strategy to help themselves concentrate,” said study co-author Jackie Andrade, a University of Plymouth psychologist. “We might not be aware that we’re doing it, but it could be a trick that people develop because it helps them from wandering off into a daydream.”

Andrade’s findings, published Thursday in Applied Cognitive Psychology, are an interesting wrinkle on cognitive load theory: The mind has a limited amount of attention to give and, once occupied, stops processing other stimuli.

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Written by mattliving

March 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Knowledge, Learning

Tagged with ,

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