Trail making test performance of behaviorally disturbed aggressive adolescents

Lewis, Bernard James, Department of Education, University of Virginia
Boyd, John D., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
La Fleur, N. Kenneth, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Hume, Keith, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Grieger, Russell M., University of Virginia
Boll, Thomas, University of Virginia

Recent studies have suggested a possible language difficulty among groups of behaviorally disturbed aggressive adolescents based on the consistant finding of a higher Performance than Verbal I.Q. score. This, along with studies reporting a variety of physiological disorders among these adolescents suggested the possibility of an undiagnosed neuropsychological dysfunction, perhaps especially related to language abilities in some behaviorally disturbed aggressive adolescents.

This study was designed to investigate this possibility by comparing the Trail Making Test performances of behaviorally disturbed aggressive adolescents and a sample of, normal adolescents. Forty-four institutionalized adolescents exhibiting behavioral patterns characterized by unethical behavior, defiant-resistive attitudes, domineering sadistic behavior, a high degree of sexual interest., hyperactivity, emotional distance and lack of emotional control made up the behaviorally disturbed (BD) group, while an equal number of high school students who exhibited "normal" behavior and a specific absence of the above behaviors made up the normal (N) group. The Trail Making Test was individually administered and both raw score times and times converted to credits were used in the statistical comparison of the two groups.

The results pointed to a significantly longer time required to complete both Trails A and Trails B by the BD group. An increased difficulty with Trails B compared to Trails A was noted for both groups however this was much more apparent in the BD subjects.

Results were interpreted as supporting the hypothesis of neuropsychological dysfunction among some of the BD group members based primarily on their inferior performance on Trails B apparently due to the added language component of this part of the test.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Adolescent psychology, Neuropsychology
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