The research identifies if handwriting captures attention for significant periods, resulting in a decline in working memory performance. Additionally, the experiments isolate whether the movements produced during handwriting contribute to that interference. To do this, verbal serial recall was compared between three different tasks − a listening task; a listening + handwriting task (i.e., motor and verbal demands); and a listening + handwriting-like drawing task (i.e., motor demands), in two experiments. Results showed that verbal serial recall was worse in the handwriting and drawing conditions compared to the listening condition. The handwriting and drawing conditions did not differ. In a third experiment, handwriting fluency was compared between a recall and no-recall task. This showed that handwriting fluency remains stable despite the addition of a verbal working memory task. In conclusion, the handwriting movements capture attention for significant periods, with little deterioration in recall due to the verbal component of handwriting.
Tindle, R & Longstaff, MG 2016, 'Investigating the lower level demands of writing: handwriting movements interfere with immediate verbal serial recall', Journal of Cognitive Psychology, vol. 28, no. 4, pp. 443-461.
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