Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) or positron emission tomography (PET), much knowledge has been gained in understanding how the brain is activated during controlled experiments of language tasks in educated healthy subjects and in uneducated healthy subjects. While previous studies have compared performance between alphabetic subjects, few data were about Chinese-speaking individuals. In this study, we used fMRI to investigate brain activations in processing characters and figures by visual tasks in 26 Chinese subjects (13 illiterates and 13 literates). Different activation patterns were observed in not only Chinese character judgment task, but also simple figure judgment task between literates and illiterates. We conclude that constellation of neural substrates was different for literates and illiterates and education may enhance this brain plasticity.