You see someone doodling during a training session and think, “He hasn’t heard a word I’ve said.” In reality, he might be one of your best learners.

Researchers in the UK have revealed an unlikely link between doodling and memory.

In the study, subjects listened to an intentionally long and boring voicemail recording. Half were asked to doodle while the message played and the other half simply listened.

Researchers then gave both groups a surprise memory test on the recording. The doodlers remembered 29% more than those who sat passively.

The study suggests that the act of doodling may assist concentration and memory by preventing daydreaming. Researchers warn that the learners with vacant, blank stares are the ones you should worry about. Daydreaming occupies valuable mental resources needed for learning.

Source: Andrade, J. (2009). What does doodling do? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24(2), 100-106.

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