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Dementia & Neuropsychologia

Print version ISSN 1980-5764

Dement. neuropsychol. vol.4 no.4 São Paulo Oct./Dec. 2010

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1980-57642010DN40400008 

Original Articles

Kanji and Kana agraphia in mild cognitive impairment and dementia: A trans-cultural comparison of elderly Japanese subjects living in Japan and Brazil

Agrafia para Kanji e Kana em comprometimento cognitivo leve e demência: comparação transcultural de indivíduos idosos morando no Japão e Brasil

Kyoko Akanuma 1  

Kenichi Meguro 1  

Mitsue Meguro 1  

Rosa Yuka Sato Chubaci 2  

Paulo Caramelli 3  

Ricardo Nitrini 4  

1Department of Geriatric Behavioral Neurology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan.

2Department of Nursing, University of São Paulo School of Medicine, São Paulo SP, Brazil.

3Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Minas Gerais BH, Brazil.

4Department of Neurology, University of São Paulo School of Medicine, São Paulo SP, Brazil.

Abstract

This study verifies the environmental effects on agraphia in mild cognitive impairment and dementia. We compared elderly Japanese subjects living in Japan and Brazil. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the database of the Prevalence Study 1998 in Tajiri (n=497, Miyagi, Japan) and the Prevalence Study 1997 of elderly Japanese immigrants living in Brazil (n=166, migrated from Japan and living in the São Paulo Metropolitan Area). In three Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) groups, i.e., CDR 0 (healthy), CDR 0.5 (questionable dementia), and CDR 1+ (dementia) , the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) item of spontaneous writing and the Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument (CASI) domain of dictation were analyzed with regard to the number of Kanji and Kana characters. Formal errors in characters and pragmatic errors were also analyzed. Results: The immigrants in Brazil wrote similar numbers of Kanji or Kana characters compared to the residents of Japan. In spontaneous writing, the formal Kanji errors were greater in the CDR 1+ group of immigrants. In writing from dictation, all the immigrant CDR groups made more formal errors in Kana than the Japan residents. No significant differences in pragmatic errors were detected between the two groups. Conclusions: Subjects living in Japan use Kanji frequently, and thus the form of written characters was simplified, which might be assessed as mild formal errors. In immigrants, the deterioration in Kanji and Kana writing was partly due to decreased daily usage of the characters. Lower levels of education of immigrants might also be related to the number of Kanji errors.

Key words: agraphia; mild cognitive impairment; dementia; Kanji; Kana

Resumo

Este estudo verifica os efeitos do meio ambiente sobre a agrafia em comprometimento cognitivo leve e demência. Nós comparamos indivíduos idosos vivendo no Japão e Brasil. Métodos: Nós, retrospectivamente, analisamos a base de dados do Estudo de Prevalência 1998 em Tajiri (n=497, Miyagi, Japão) e do Estudo de Prevalência 1997 de imigrantes idosos japoneses vivendo no Brasil (n=166, imigrados do Japão e residindo na área metropolitana da cidade de São Paulo). Em três grupos de CDR (Clinical Dementia Rating), isto é, CDR 0 (saudáveis), CDR 0.5 (demência questionável) e CDR1+ (demência), o item de escrita espontânea do Mini-Exame do Estado Mental (MEEM) e o domínio de ditado do Cognitive Abilities Screening Instrument (CASI) foram analisados em relação ao número de caracteres em Kanji e Kana. Erros formais nos caracteres e erros pragmáticos foram também analisados. Resultados: Os imigrantes no Brasil escreveram número similar de caracteres de Kanji e Kana comparados aos residentes no Japão. Na escrita espontânea, os erros formais de Kanji foram maiores no grupo de CDR1+ em imigrantes. Na escrita sob ditado, todos os grupos de CDR de imigrantes fizeram mais erros formais em Kana do que os residentes no Japão. Nenhuma diferença foi encontrada em erros pragmáticos entre os grupos. Conclusões: Sujeitos vivendo no Japão usam Kanji freqüentemente, e então, a forma de caracteres escritos foi simplificada, o que pode ser avaliado como discretos erros formais. Em imigrantes, a deterioração na escrita em Kanji e Kana foi parcialmente devida ao uso diário restrito dos caracteres. Baixos níveis educacionais dos imigrantes podem estar relacionados ao número de erros em Kanji.

Palavras-chave: agrafia; comprometimento cognitivo leve; demência; Kanji; Kana

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Received: August 10, 2010; Accepted: October 11, 2010

Kenichi Meguro - Department of Geriatric Behavioral Neurology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-1, Seiryo-machi, Aoba-ku, 980-8575 Sendai, Japan. E-mail: k-meg@umin.ac.jp

Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest

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