People who doodle during meetings are often accused of not paying attention. Recent research appeared in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology (published online February 27, 2009), shows that they may actually retain more of what was said than non-doodlers.
The subjects were asked to listen to a two and a half minute long telephone recording that contained eight names of people who were to attend a party. Half of the subjects were asked to doodle while listening to the recording, and half did not. The group doing the doodling retained 29% more information than the non-doodling group.
Lead researcher, Professor Jackie Andrade, of the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth, believes that doodling helps to curtail daydreaming. Performing a simple task, while listening to something boring, helps to keep people from being distracted and stay more focused on the task at hand.