Author(s): Sugishita M, Omura K
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Abstract From elementary through high school, Japanese children are required to memorize a large number of distinct visual forms, i.e., roughly 2,000 Chinese characters, and tremendous effort is expended in learning to read and write them. We hypothesized that early training in memorizing Chinese characters and the use of these characters in daily life shapes brain development and facilitates recall of visual forms in general, including geometrical figures in visual recall tests. To demonstrate whether the learning of Chinese character is correlated with specific aspects of memory, we administered the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised (WMS-R) to a representative sample of the normal Japanese population (316 persons, 100\% Japanese) and compared their scores with data previously obtained from a representative sample of the normal U.S. population (316 persons, 82.5\% Caucasian). The WMS-R has 12 memory subtests, each measuring a different aspect of memory and includes two visual recall subtests (Visual Reproduction I and II). Compared to the Americans, the Japanese group obtained significantly higher scores on these two visual recall subtests in each of the six age groups tested (16 to 74 years old). Further, the scores of Japanese on the two visual recall subtests did not decline across age groups as much as scores for the U.S. group. Japanese also scored significantly higher on the Visual Memory Span subtest in three age groups.
This article was published in Percept Mot Skills
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research