Effect of kanji and kana reading on cerebral blood flow patterns measured by PET

M. Kiyosawa, M. Itoh, Y. Nakagawa, N. Kobayashi, M. Tamai

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14 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate the respective functions of pathways in processing visual information from different types of symbols, by positron emission tomography (PET) we examined the effect on cerebral blood flow (CBF) of reading the Japanese morphogram (kanji) versus the syllabogram (kana). Nine Japanese men were presented with three visual conditions in random order 2 minutes before the scan: eyes open controls, kanji morphogram reading, and kana syllabogram reading. Three words written in kanji or kana were shown, and subjects were instructed to read them silently and to identify the word unrelated logically to the other two. The reading and analyzing tasks activated wide areas of vision-related cortices. The comparison of the kanji and kana readings showed higher metabolism, with the former only in the posterior part of the primary visual cortex. Most of the CBF increases were common for both stimuli, although the patterns of these increases differed slightly. The correlation matrix of CBF change in the left hemisphere showed a ventral connection in kanji reading and a dorsal connection in kana reading. Our results suggest there is a functional differentiation in the brain between patterned and sequential perception when reading Japanese morphograms and syllabograms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-205
Number of pages8
JournalJapanese Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Kana
  • Kanji
  • Language
  • Position emission tomography
  • Word


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