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Doodle power

By Timothy Cocks Science and the world 01 Aug 2014

Interesting and fun piece from The Wall Street Journal on doodling.

The Power of the Doodle: Improve Your Focus and Memory

“Long dismissed as a waste of time, doodling is getting new respect.

Recent research in neuroscience, psychology and design shows that doodling can help people stay focused, grasp new concepts and retain information. A blank page also can serve as an extended playing field for the brain, allowing people to revise and improve on creative thoughts and ideas.

“It’s a thinking tool,” says Sunni Brown, an Austin, Texas, author of a new book, “The Doodle Revolution.” It can affect how we process information and solve problems, she says.”

Amazing doodles from a medical student in the article.

medical doodles
Michiko Maruyama, a medical-school student in Canada, draws ‘daily doodles’ to help her remember what was covered in class. Michiko Maruyama

Great smiling nerve in love with it’s schwann cell, and I think that’s some striated muscle (showing Z-Lines?) with some mitochondria, in the background.

The Lancet piece referenced in the WSJ article is available online here and has an interesting link to the “default network of the brain”

“Thus there seem to be certain parallels between doodling and brain activity in the default network: doodling appears to be most commonly undertaken when stimulus-independent thought is occurring, as when day dreaming or mind-wandering, and less commonly also during stimulus-orientated thought such as watchfulness. Both these circumstances are the very circumstances in which the brain’s default network, and perhaps arousal, are implicated. But whatever brain processes are enlisted during doodling must also be well-established, because an individual’s doodles usually have a consistent form: those who draw geometrical patterns, or faces, or scenes, often seem to do so habitually, and many doodlers have themselves commented on the stereotyped nature of their drawings made over many years. These features suggest that the underlying cerebral processes are both specific to that individual and stable over the long term”

Next time you’re doodling in a meeting and someone accuses you of not paying attention – just direct them to this post and keep doodling away!


-Tim Cocks


Get your think on and get up to date at a noigroup course, or immerse yourself in some brainy books with Explain Pain 2nd Ed and The Graded Motor Imagery Handbook


  1. Lovely article Tim. I like the phrase ” Mind Wandering”…………beautifully expressed
    On location 😎😎😎

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