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A Japanese team has said that writing in paper notebooks leads to stronger brain activity when recalling schedules than using tablet terminals or smartphones.

“This is probably because there are more things impressed on memory, such as the places where letters were written and sensations of touch,” together with schedules, said team member Kuniyoshi Sakai, professor at the University of Tokyo.

The team also has members from the same university and NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting Inc.

“Electronic devices are not bulky and are convenient for searches and other purposes, but I think paper notebooks are more useful for thinking and generating creative ideas,” Sakai said.

In the team’s experiment, 48 people aged 18-29 were divided into three groups — users of paper notebooks, tablet terminals with special pens, and smartphones.

They were asked to answer questions on two-month schedules they read from written conversations and recorded on the notebooks or devices an hour before, while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging examinations.

The three groups had little difference in correct answer rates, at around 60%. But parts of brains related to memory and language processing grew more active for users of paper notebooks than the other two groups.

The experiment was conducted in a joint research program with JMA Management Center Inc. Their study was published on the Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience international journal.

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