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Why do people doodle? © Getty Images

Why do people doodle?

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If you find yourself spacing out during that work meeting or losing concentration on the phone, doodling might be a good way to keep your mind alert.

Asked by: Faraz, London

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Surprisingly, doodling while chatting on the phone or sitting through a meeting may be an instinctive way to maintain concentration and retain more information. The idea is that doodling adds just enough effortless stimulation to use up your brain’s spare attentional capacity, keeping your mind active and preventing you from spacing out entirely.

Recent research at the University of Waterloo, Canada, suggests that an even better strategy than free-form doodling is to create drawings that are relevant to what you’re learning.

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Authors

Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.

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