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There is an interesting question on this site:

Does writing something down help memorize it?

Now my question is, does writing something on computer (i.e. using Word, Notepad, ...) help memorize it?

I usually learn by rewriting texts I read on computer. I never use copy-paste and always rewrite text myself and change it a little (acording to my needs, also I often translate it).

I use computer mainly because:

  • I can write faster on computer than on paper
  • I am often lazy to find paper and I don't want to waste paper when I will probably throw it away 2 days later anyway (consider environment, please don't consider as a "throw away exam")
  • It easier to edit text written on computer, can search within it, ...

So does the writing text on computer have the same advantages as writing down on paper?

Sub question: Does formatting of text have any influence on this?

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Why do you want to memorize? –  caseyr547 Jan 16 '14 at 13:38
Does this change asnwer in any way? ... Many times knowing how things work isn't enough (at exams), and you need to memorize some background around it (how were things made, when, by who, ...), or need to memorize which facts/examples/diagrams/formulas are needed to provide. –  Buksy Jan 16 '14 at 13:48
if you were memorizing to use at a future date you would want to study differently than if you were memorizing for a throw away exam. –  caseyr547 Jan 16 '14 at 13:52
I may have badly described one of the reasons to use computer. Please consider environment save in second point... –  Buksy Jan 16 '14 at 14:12
Great, I was just onto asking this question... –  draks ... Mar 25 '14 at 23:29

2 Answers 2

According to a study by Anne Mangen and Jean-Luc Velay of the University of Stavanger, handwriting is better than typing for learning: http://www.uis.no/research-and-phd-studies/research-areas/school-and-learning/learning-environment/better-learning-through-handwriting-article29782-8869.html

Mangen refers to an experiment involving two groups of adults, in which the participants were assigned the task of having to learn to write in an unknown alphabet, consisting of approximately twenty letters. One group was taught to write by hand, while the other was using a keyboard. Three and six weeks into the experiment, the participants’ recollection of these letters, as well as their rapidity in distinguishing right and reversed letters, were tested. Those who had learned the letters by handwriting came out best in all tests. Furthermore, fMRI brain scans indicated an activation of the Brocas area within this group. Among those who had learned by typing on keyboards, there was little or no activation of this area.

However, I'm having a hard time finding the actual research paper.

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Dr. Karin Harman James seems to specialize in this area of research concerning children. Her experiments with an fMRI have shown that handwriting offers some neurological advantages of increased character recognition that typing does not.

Functional specialization in the brain is considered a hallmark of efficient processing. It is therefore not surprising that there are brain areas specialized for processing letters. To better understand the causes of functional specialization for letters, we explore the emergence of this pattern of response in the ventral processing stream through a training paradigm. Previously, we hypothesized that the specialized response pattern seen during letter perception may be due in part to our experience in writing letters. The work presented here investigates whether or not this aspect of letter processing—the integration of sensorimotor systems through writing—leads to functional specialization in the visual system. To test this idea, we investigated whether or not different types of experiences with letter-like stimuli (“pseudoletters”) led to functional specialization similar to that which exists for letters. Neural activation patterns were measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after three different types of training sessions. Participants were trained to recognize pseudoletters by writing, typing, or purely visual practice. Results suggested that only after writing practice did neural activation patterns to pseudoletters resemble patterns seen for letters. That is, neural activation in the left fusiform and dorsal precentral gyrus was greater when participants viewed pseudoletters than other, similar stimuli but only after writing experience. Neural activation also increased after typing practice in the right fusiform and left precentral gyrus, suggesting that in some areas, any motor experience may change visual processing. The results of this experiment suggest an intimate interaction among perceptual and motor systems during pseudoletter perception that may be extended to everyday letter perception.

-The role of sensorimotor learning in the perception of letter-like forms: Tracking the causes of neural specialization for letters

Writing does somewhat interfere with reading.

The effect of writing on the concurrent visual perception of letters was investigated in a series of studies using an interference paradigm. Participants drew shapes and letters while simultaneously visually identifying letters and shapes embedded in noise. Experiments 1–3 demonstrated that letter perception, but not the perception of shapes, was affected by motor interference. This suggests a strong link between the perception of letters and the neural substrates engaged during writing. The overlap both in category (letter vs. shape) and in the perceptual similarity of the features (straight vs. curvy) of the seen and drawn items determined the amount of interference. Experiment 4 demonstrated that intentional production of letters is not necessary for the interference to occur, because passive movement of the hand in the shape of letters also interfered with letter perception. When passive movements were used, however, only the category of the drawn items (letters vs. shapes), but not the perceptual similarity, had an influence, suggesting that motor representations for letters may selectively influence visual perception of letters through proprioceptive feedback, with an additional influence of perceptual similarity that depends on motor programs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

-When writing impairs reading: Letter perception’s susceptibility to motor interference.

Given this research I do not think writing offers any major advantages over typing in adults.

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How does your conclusion "Given this research" follow from the research you cite? You cite research in children where writing does give advantage over typing, cite an example that writing can interfere with reading and then conclude something completely unrelated (maybe even opposite) about typing in adults. Given the scant evidence you provide, the only thing that can be concluded is that we (or at least you) don't know the difference between writing and typing in this context. –  Artem Kaznatcheev Jan 19 '14 at 20:43
@ArtemKaznatcheev If you read the research you might understand. Writing offered some benefits but they were not awe inspiring. Typing also offered benefits just less so. –  caseyr547 Jan 19 '14 at 20:49
@ArtemKaznatcheev if you'd like your welcome to post a better answer. –  caseyr547 Jan 19 '14 at 20:50
it is better to not give an answer than to give a bad or misleading answer. I don't know what the answer to this question is, but I know that your conclusion does not follow from your own premises. If you think that the study suggests that typing offered benefits that are similar then you should stress them in your answer. –  Artem Kaznatcheev Jan 19 '14 at 21:07
@caseyr547 If understanding your answer is contingent upon reading papers you linked in your answer, then it would be very helpful if you cite the relevant information from the papers you linked. Answers are supposed to be largely self-contained, with links and references only there to provide further detail and background, should the reader be interested. –  Beofett Jan 20 '14 at 18:27

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