Table of Contents
ISRN Geriatrics
Volume 2013, Article ID 285860, 7 pages
Research Article

The Role of Enactment in Learning American Sign Language in Younger and Older Adults

1McMaster Integrative Neuroscience Discovery and Study (MiNDS), McMaster University, ON, Canada L8S 4L8
2Kinesiology, McMaster University, ON, Canada L8S 4L8

Received 18 August 2012; Accepted 16 September 2012

Academic Editors: K. Furukawa and D. G. Walker

Copyright © 2013 Alison Fenney and Timothy D. Lee. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


“Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand” (Confucius, 450 B.C). Philosophers and scientists alike have pondered the question of the mind-body link for centuries. Recently the role of motor information has been examined more specifically for a role in learning and memory. This paper describes a study using an errorless learning protocol to teach characters to young and older persons in American Sign Language. Participants were assigned to one of two groups: recognition (visually recognizing signs) or enactment (physically creating signs). Number of signs recalled and rate of forgetting were compared between groups and across age cohorts. There were no significant differences, within either the younger or older groups for number of items recalled. There were significant differences between recognition and enactment groups for rate of forgetting, within young and old, suggesting that enactment improves the strength of memory for items learned, regardless of age.