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How do your hands shape your brain?

Your brain and your hands are two parts of the body which are strongly connected. Your hands can shape the brain and your brain can control your hands. It’s a constant bilateral conversation happening, and it is important to nurture this relationship. 

First, let’s look at the nervous system and visualize better the strengths of this connection. Take a look at the strange picture below, this is a representation of the map of our nervous system (sensory and motor).

Take a look at the size of its hands : they are huge compared to the size of its arms for example! This is because your fingers and hands have a big density of nerves passing through.

The Cortex Man - An illustration of your body lying within the brain.
The Cortex Man – An illustration of your body lying within the brain.


We are still learning and how and exactly what they communicate, but we can for sure already implement some best practices to get the most of our hands. The visualization shows that the brain to hand and hand to brain information traffic is dense. 

Here are some best practices to entertain a creative hands/brain connection : 

  • hands are your ally for learning: try to use your hands when learning something new (ex: note taking, drawing or making a presentation…) 
  • hands can improve creativity: when you manipulate ideas with your hands, you will unlock new thinking and ideas.
  • Hands help with complexity: give your brain a hand (pun indented) by representing physically a problem and going through it with your hands. Better understanding or even answers will come out! 

All these practices encourage you to play and give you a great place to start: use your hands. This connection seems like a very important practice for creative thinkers.


When your brain and your hands are truly working in synchronization, you can create little miracles! You can create your own “ah-ha” moments by using your hands, as we add a layer of materialization of our thought process.

In their article about “ah-ha” moments, Harvard Business Review defines 4 steps to having these moments. We encourage you, like they do in their article, to take a break, and maybe start fidgeting something that appeals around you. That might help you to exert different parts of your brain in a decision making process for example. From there, you might even start playing!


How to leverage the power of your hands?

We think you could do much more with your hands than what you currently do. You could use your hands to understand a topic, unlock new thinking, get imaginative or tackle complexity.

Take a look at how we use our hands at work these days with our devices. We only leverage a small part of the capabilities given by our hands!


We can do better than this. Using our hands at work can remove a lot of our pain points such as : 

  • Being stuck in a situation 
  • Needing to understand a given problem 
  • Imagine solutions 
  • Learning new competencies or skills 
  • ….

If you want to learn more about this and more broadly about learning how to play at work, we recommend you check out our online class, Basics of Play at Work


PS : Sometimes, just taking the time to draw a problem, formalizing on paper what you need to do or making a prototype are the way to go to think differently!


If you want inviting tools for you to start using your hands at work, go take a look to our shop, you might find something that’s just for you!