Step into any lecture theatre today and observe a sea of laptops, the solemn rustle of paper replaced with the sterile clacking of keys. In schools, pencil and paper are also under threat from ubiquitous tablets. Many scholars maintain that typing lets them take notes faster. But according to research published in Frontiers in Psychology, a journal, it may be to their detriment.

Scientists measured the brain activity of 36 university students while they typed and wrote by hand. Comparing the data showed that, when handwriting, the parietal and central regions of the students’ brains were more connected. Links between these regions can be key for memory-formation and learning.

Both writing and typing have their drawbacks. Handwritten notes can be difficult to decipher later, while devices harbour myriad potential distractions. Nevertheless, students would be well advised to take up their ballpoints occasionally, even if it earns them some sideways glances in class.