By Changing Your World, You Change Our World

Why reading and writing on paper can be better for your brain | Technology | The Guardian

My son is 18 months old, and I’ve been reading books with him since he was born. I say “reading”, but I really mean “looking at” – not to mention grasping, dropping, throwing, cuddling, chewing, and everything else a tiny human being likes to do. Over the last six months, though, he has begun not simply to look but also to recognise a few letters and numbers. He calls a capital Y a “yak” after a picture on the door of his room; a capital H is “hedgehog”; a capital K, “kangaroo”; and so on.

Reading, unlike speaking, is a young activity in evolutionary terms. Humans have been speaking in some form for hundreds of thousands of years; we are born with the ability to acquire speech etched into our neurones. The earliest writing, however, emerged only 6,000 years ago, and every act of reading remains a version of what my son is learning: identifying the special species of physical objects known as letters and words, using much the same neural circuits as we use to identify trees, cars, animals and telephone boxes.

It’s not only words and letters that we process as objects. Texts themselves, so far as our brains are concerned, are physical landscapes. So it shouldn’t be surprising that we respond differently to words printed on a page compared to words appearing on a screen; or that the key to understanding these differences lies in the geography of words in the world.

I've found that i use my kindle for "fun" reading and when i want retention i go to paper. Writing is similar. When i really want to be expressive nothing beats the old pen and paper; poetry, love letters and just anything that you want to capture emotions. It is convenient to type but just a little cold in format. So if there is something i really want to express; emotions and all, I write it down and transcribe. I have a little notebook i carry everywhere to capture those random thoughts and snippets that i want to remind myself of later on.

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