Origami and How It Affects Brain Development and Stimulation

Origami, the ancient Japanese art of paper folding, was invented sometime in the second century. Since then it has become a deeply ingrained element of Japanese culture. More modernly, it has become a fixture of fascination and competition across the world. Taking less conventional “papers” and folding them is becoming popular too. How does a simple dollar bill turn into this?


Koi fish origami

More importantly, origami has been recognized worldwide as a developmental tool. In Japanese kindergartens, paper-folding is often encouraged as an activity in both lessons and free-time. Young children receive origami as a device to improve and expand their motor and cognitive skill. Using it throughout childhood reinforces these skills and allows them to augment their origami ability. It also enhances three-dimensional thinking, non-verbal reasoning, and patience. It is very easy to see why origami is the perfect learning apparatus.

If you haven’t been instructed in origami since you were five, don’t worry. The brain stimulation origami supplies is plenty enough to get your cells moving even at older ages. In fact, origami is probably most beneficial for older age groups because it can refine memory, eye-hand coordination, and ability to concentrate on a specific task. Emotional satisfaction is another facet of origami advantages. The pride and relief that comes from completing a difficult and lengthy task is something to look forward at the end of your folding!

So, even though you get all these great things from origami, what’s actually happening inside your brain when you do it? Well, you have to use both hands to fold paper. Common knowledge is that your right side brain controls your left body, and your left side brain controls your right body. By using both right and left hands, you stimulate both hemispheres of your brain. When doing so, you activate every skill each hemisphere controls as well. Your left side controls spoken and written language, number skills, scientific ability, and reasoning, while your right side controls insight, 3-D form comprehension, imagination, art awareness, and music awareness. All of these functions start up when you fold. Your brain cells are buzzing with life! The synapses are lighting up like fireflies! It’s incredible what this simple art of bending paper can do.

Now, time to get your head working. If you’ve never folded, origami is easy to begin! The above picture is relatively advanced, so if you want to start somewhere small, you can try folding strips of paper to make Lucky Stars, also known as Paper Stars.

100 Rainbow Shower Origami Lucky Stars - custom order available

Or, simply look up a few beginner origami sites. It may seem impossible at first, but with a bit of determination you can create beautiful things. Happy folding!


Duffy, R. (n.d.). Origami: Improving Children’s Brain One Fold at a Time. Retrieved June 23, 2015.

Shumakov, K., & Shumakov, Y. (n.d.). Origami Whole Brain. Retrieved June 25, 2015.

Torres, L. (2011, January 19). Health Benefits of Origami. Retrieved June 26, 2015.

White, R. (2012, January 26). Stimulate Your Brain With Origami. Retrieved June 23, 2015.

Image Sources:

Rainbow Shower Origami Stars

Click on Dollar Koi image for source.

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Written by Lindsay Kutac

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Hi there! I'm a student from Texas who, starting in the fall, will specialize in the study of American Sign Language and Fine Arts. My articles will primarily focus on how unconscious actions and one's position in western society can affect our brain function.

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Origami and How It Affects Brain Development and Stimulation