How Academic Writing Affects Student Mood and Brain

People learned to read more than 5 thousand years ago. And the human brain was formed more than 100 thousand years ago. That is, the ability to read and write, in terms of evolution, is an explicit superstructure over existing brain structures. This was confirmed by the latest MRI studies. As it turned out, most of the higher brain regions are involved in reading and writing, which means that these processes can be considered as the best exercise for developing and maintaining the brain “in shape”. Writing and reading for all civilizations is seen as a key step in the intellectual development, despite any costs and difficulties. It turned out that behind such a presentation hides the very way of functioning of our brain. Academic writing is the combination of reading and writing abilities in its best. When being involved in these activities you influence both your thinking capacity and your mood. We’ve gathered scientific evidence of that and are glad to provide you with some solid proofs expressed in a way not only a neurobiology geeks can understand.

How Academic Writing Influences Your Brain

The brain organization of mental functions is studied by neuropsychology. Fundamental in the domestic neuropsychology is the principle of the systemic brain organization of mental functions.

According to it, any higher mental function (including a handwriting), as a complex functional system, relies on the work of a system of mutually related brain zones.

Each structural component of the mental function is localized in a specific area of the brain and is a part of one of the three blocks:

    1. block providing regulation of a tonus and wakefulness;
    2. block providing functions of reception, processing and storage of information;
    3. block providing programming, regulation and control of mental activity.

It is evident that writing is a result of the joint work of the brain as a whole, but it can be broken with the dysfunction of almost any area of the cortex or subcortical structures in which the functional components of the writing ability are localized. It proves that when writing, especially when writing complex academic papers from scratch you make all your brain work, and work hard. It trains it, keeps it in tonus, develops your memory capacity and boosts creativity.

How Academic Writing Affects Your Mood

It is evident, that you might be rather stressed about being unable to submit some paper on time, or some complex research process or irritating formatting. In such cases, it is safe to say that academic writing negatively influences your mood. However, it would be unfair to academic writing as a general process. What makes you stressed is the particular situation, time limit, challenging discipline, procrastination or a bad relationship with a professor.

The academic writing itself is capable of affecting your mood, your emotions in a positive way:

        • It gives you a feeling of accomplishment. Academic writing is challenging and being able to cope with it definitely makes you feel better about yourself.
        • It makes you more concentrated. When the deadline is not driving you mad, academic writing has a positive effect of making you calmer and concentrated, less responsive to the external stress.
        • It reduces stress itself. Writing in general, both handwriting and typing, makes stress go away. It is connected with brain functions. While you are writing something your emotional and cognitive systems are getting back to normal.

It would be not logical to expect academic writing to make you exceptionally joyful and cheerful, but it still can be truly useful, when you are under some not academic pressure and want to get concentrated on something else. If academic writing doesn’t help with the mood swings, try writing a blog, a diary, a letter to a friend. Writing itself is a very complex process, a combination of the processes in our brain, and performing it you will, in any case, feel better and more confident rather shortly.

Give a Chance to Handwriting (It’s Still Cool!)

The new federal educational standards Common Core, approved and launched in 2010, suggest teaching the handwriting only in preschool and first class. Further emphasis is placed on printing skills. It must be said that at the level of the regional administration it is not forbidden to continue teaching handwriting in the higher grades by including it in the state curriculum. For example, the state of California and Massachusetts do this. The states of Ohio and Indiana are allowed to include calligraphy as an optional subject. According to the most recent experiments students noting down lecture by hand later remember more than those who type it. However, those who type get more detailed notes, so you should decide for yourself what is more functional for you in the particular case. Of course, we don’t offer you to write all your academic essays this way and later retype them to send to your professor. To make use of the findings proving the effectiveness of handwriting use personal diaries or pay attention to some simple online calligraphy courses.

Academic writing influences both your emotional state and cognitive abilities in a positive way unless you find yourself under stress because of the approaching deadline or some challenging assignment. In such cases, it is better to look for some extra help than to surrender to mind-blocking stress which will prevent you from succeeding in another task. Read, write, get smarter and more creative!