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The Doodle Advantage

Updated on December 17, 2013

Andrade experiment


University of Plymouth research psychologist Jackie Andrade, involved in applied cognitive psychology, has proven that doodling has it's advantages when it comes to doodlers retaining more information.

She had two groups of twenty participate in a study that required them all to listen to a decidedly 'dull' voice message, then answer some questions. One group doodled while the second group did not. Andrade found that the group that doodled retained up to 29% more information when asked questions based on what they had just heard.

Doodling somehow holds a balance between outright daydreaming and paying attention, as the brain is forced to expend just enough energy to maintain this balance.

The doodler

The lazy, daydreamer in the back of the class who normally irks the teacher or professor can be identified by all the doodling that happens in their note books. You know the kid who'll either skate by or never graduate.

That person in the meeting whose always looking down at a piece of paper making scratches.

Put a piece of paper and a pen in their hand and voila.

Their progress reports usually labels them as inattentive, slack, or that their mind wanders. Even so, more often than not this child or student is usually capable of doing the work given and passing their tests.

Yet, is that true? That they are slack, or inattentive.

Or is it that they are just bored?

My personal opinion is that the child that is the most distracted, distracting and disruptive is the child that is bored. Somewhere the lesson is lost on the child and they have reverted to their own world.

They are also the ones that tend to talk the most in the classroom setting especially when the teacher has given an assignment that each child is required to do on their own.

This is a shame, this is where we lose most of our young students, because they are not engaged.

This is where you will first spot a chronic doodler. They have pent up energy and the only way they can exert it is to doodle. Yet doodling is engaging the brain and hand coordination stimulating memory and creativeness.

Doodling to me is much different from fidgeting but they are connected in terms that a child has a lot of pent up energy that needs a form of release. Channeling this energy helps keep the child on track when it comes to learning and retaining more information..

Engagement is necessary for this child. Utilize them as a

  • tutor/mentor
  • helper, grading assistant
  • leader

Usually giving them extra work also keeps them from disturbing their fellow students, it also offers them a sense of challenge, which is what is needed.

This is what i encouraged each one of my son's elementary teachers to do with him. The doodling for him came later. Yet, because i am an artist myself it caused us no alarm, other than my one instruction, 'that he was not to disrupt any other child's right to a good education', he was and is labeled an accelerated or 'gifted' pupil earning spots in those coveted classes.

Quick hand sketch, Hitchcock profile logo
Quick hand sketch, Hitchcock profile logo | Source

Advantages of doodling

  • Enhances the artistic or creative ability of an individual giving birth to a myriad of ideas spawned from a single form.
  • It allows the thinking processes to expand not just in a linear manner to arrive at solutions or ideas for any situation or circumstance.
  • Assists in the brains way to figure out or solve problems.
  • Leads to a development of ideas and concepts, that can be a solution to a problem or a way of creating something entirely new.
  • It aids in the memorization of typically mundane facts and figures, and aids in the concentration of a person working on something that needs all their faculties engaged and focused.
  • Helps with making random connections that would not be normally seen or made without the aid of a creative release of energy for which doodling is known for.
  • It allows varied and multiple viewpoints to what may be considered a singular situation, circumstance or problem.
  • Known to strengthen the hand, eye coordination

Famed doodlers

Presidents, mathematicians, inventors, architects, techies, authors and many others are known for doodling, it helps to unlock mysteries otherwise too linear to uncover, such as plots to novels, etc.

Computer / Tech innovators & inventors

  • Bill Gates
  • Leonardo DaVinci


  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Bill Clinton
  • Ronald Reagan

Poet and authors

  • John Keats
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Mark Twain


Stanislaw Ulam, Ulam spiral

brain | Source

What is the primary reason you doodle?

See results

Research states

With an absence of stimuli the brain is not stagnant but highly active because it is constantly looking for information to process. That is it's function.

Yet when it is not being actively engaged it finds ways to deal with stagnation.

Doodling is one of the ways it keeps itself engaged and focused, while it is also developing mechanisms in which to cope with information it is trying to understand or file away.

  • External memory,
  • External representations, developing ideas
  • Restructuring, building something through novel ideas, usually from a basic idea


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