The Science Of Art: Why People Who Doodle Actually Pay More Attention

by Paul Hudson

Nature is the most beautiful artist. All the symmetry, all the little bits and pieces that make up larger systems -- that then make up even larger systems -- all of it is perfectly beautiful.

Everything, everywhere is connected in one way or another -- literally everything. You, yourself, are made up of stars that died billions of years ago. Everything is connected and, therefore, everything can be understood. But whether or not it ever will be understood depends on us.

Just as the universe is connected, so are the thoughts, memories and creative ideas in your mind. Your brain is an incredibly complex system -- a system that's entirely interconnected. Everything you know, remember and continue to experience exists inside your mind.

Because it exists inside your mind, even if only in the form of electrical impulses, it's in some way connected to every other piece of information that's in there as well. This allows us to make, or rather, to realize connections between things that we may not have consciously been privy to.

All of the connections already exist; you just need to see them.

It's easier to remember what you hear during doodling.

It turns out that if you doodle while listening to a lecture or a presentation, you’re more likely to recall what you hear even better than you would have if you'd been trying to listen intently. And not just a little bit more -- nearly 30 percent more.

According to a 2009 study in Applied Cognitive studies, people who were asked to doodle while they were listening to a list of peoples’ names being read to them were able to recall 29 percent more information when later they were surprised with a quiz.

This means the guy sitting next to you drawing squiggly lines, random shapes or cartoons of some sort is nearly 30 percent more likely to do better on the next exam than you. That girl you never thought was paying attention during meetings is 30 percent likelier to get a raise than you.

Doodling can help you come up with creative ideas.

I know what you’re thinking… why the hell would you need to come up with a half-chicken, half-dog mutant?

Although I’m sure there are many reasons you could be in need of such an idea, the fact is that doodling stimulates multiple parts of your brain that wouldn't have been stimulated had you decided to sit, stare at a blank piece of paper and brainstorm.

The shapes, along with the movements of your hand and wrist, stimulate parts of the brain that allow you to make connections between things that you otherwise would likely have never come up with.

Doodling can better help you understand your emotions.

Emotions are incredibly complex experiences. They're so complex that I would go as far as to argue that no two times in our lives do we ever feel exactly the same emotion.

Emotions are tightly intertwined with the memories associated with them; as two memories are never exactly the same -- nor the summation of our memories ever the same -- two emotions cannot ever be exactly the same.

Now try putting a complete emotion into words. It isn’t possible, either. Of course, some emotions are on the simpler side, or at least seem as such to us. But then we have those that are so incredibly complicated that we can’t find words to describe them.

Thankfully, doodles and drawings -- art in general -- allow for a subtlety that language does not.

Draw a doodle of your emotions instead of writing them down and you will understand your emotions better.

Doodling can help you improve on already existing ideas.

Gabriela Goldschmidt, a professor emeritus of architecture at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, conducted a study this year that showed that doodling can create a “dialog between the mind, the hand holding the pencil and the eyes that perceive the marks on paper.”

The study was on an architecture student who got stuck when coming up with a design for a new kindergarten. In order to overcome this designer’s block, he began to doodle the same doodle over and over again -- his signature.

Quickly, he began to see an idea for the new kindergarten forming as if between the lines that he was doodling. He started with a simple layout for three activity spaces. He then began quickly improving on the idea until it became an entire architectural design.

Our brains are capable of making connections between the most obscure things.

Doodling can help you better understand yourself.

It can help you learn more about your emotions, about the way you feel, about the problems you may be having. Doodling can help you come to understand things that are important to you in life.

The point of doodling isn’t to focus on the drawing itself. The point is to allow your mind to wander while you doodle. Allow your mind to drift and watch the shapes as they unfold.

A lot of what stresses us out in life are the things we have a difficult time grasping. We often find ourselves at a lack of words or a lack of understanding. We sometimes find ourselves lost and confused, or simply dazed.

The answers to most of your problems is inside your mind; you just have to make the right connections. The smartest people in the world are those who can make connections between things that others simply can’t.

Once you can see the patterns, you can begin to understand the necessary steps you’ll have to take in order to get where you want to be.

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