A new study published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology suggests that doodling can aid in memory recall. In the study, researchers had 40 participants listen to a 2.5 minute telephone conversation. Half of these participants were asked to shade in some shapes that had already been drawn, while the other half were just asked to listen to the recorded conversation. Participants were later asked to recall facts from the recorded conversation that they heard. Doodlers recalled 29% more than non-doodlers.
The researchers hypothesized that the doodling caused participants to attend more to the boring task. Non-doodlers attention might have wandered off further from the task at hand such that they did not attend enough to the information for later recall.
Importantly, this doodling was very minimal. Elaborate drawings that require more focused attention would likely result in a reduced recall of facts. So, if you are listening to a boring lecture or seminar, consider some doodling to keep your mind more active, but don’t get too elaborate!