Here's an article a lot of us can probably relate to. It describes a study that showed that doodling can help concentration on boring tasks. It may be because doodling can make it easier to avoid daydreaming. The study had participants listen to a boring phone message about a party and then tested their memory afterwards of the names of the guests who would be attending. One group was told to doodle by shading some pre-drawn shapes while listening to the message. The other group did not doodle. While both groups wrote down the names as they heard them, the doodling group was better at remembering the names in a surprise memory test. I found the paper from the actual study on another site, you have to click on the link to the PDF to read the whole thing, it's pretty short and easy to read, if you're interested. It also has the text of the boring phone message at the end. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122205124/abstract
The introduction of the article is interesting too, it's about Bill Gates's doodles during an economic forum and their interpretation by a graphologist. They were first thought to be Tony Blair's, but the interpretation was that the person who did them was "struggling to maintain control in a confusing world" and "is not rooted," and also "not a natural leader, but more of a spiritual person, like a vicar." I'm not sure about the scientific validity of this interpretation of the doodles, but it's pretty funny, and sounds like it fits Bill Gates to me. There's also a picture of some of Obama's doodles.
The study pretty much confirmed what I've always thought about doodling, that rather than being a distraction, it can make it easier to concentrate, especially when listening to someone speak. I know I see a lot of people at Pratt doodling during classes, does anyone else think it either helps or hurts?