Title

Frontal Lobe Deficits in Domestic Violence Offenders

Date of Award

12-1-1997

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Functional frontal-lobe deficits were examined in 38 male batterers and 38 male non-batterers matched on age and education level. Dependent measures that examine frontal-lobe deficits including the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Stroop Test, and Trails B were used. The Crossing-off Test (a reaction time measure), the Short Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (SMAST), and the WAIS-R vocabulary subtest were used as moderator variables. Batterers scored lower on the vocabulary subtest and higher on the SMAST than did control participants. Controlling for vocabulary ability and SMAST scores, compared to controls, batterers took significantly longer to complete Trails B. However, the groups did not significantly differ on the other neuropsychological measures.

A discriminant analysis that included both the dependent and moderator variables was highly significant (p < .001), explaining 24% of the variance. The WAIS-R vocabulary subtest score and the Short Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (SMAST;! score were moderate contributors, and the Trails B completion time contributed slightly to the derivation of this function. A second discriminant analysis that included only the dependent variables was also significant (p < .05), explaining only 7% of the variance. Trails B was the only contributor to this second equation.

The hypothesis that batterers would perform more poorly on neuropsychological measures related to frontal lobe deficits (particularly inhibition) was partially supported. Controlling for vocabulary ability and SMAST scores, compared to controls, batterers took significantly longer to complete Trails B but the groups did not significantly differ on the other neuropsychological measures. Trails B draws on the participant's ability to regulate competing response sets. Therefore, longer completion times suggests participants may not be as good at inhibiting the competing response and thus take longer to complete the task. Trails B is the only frontal lobe measure in which the two groups performed differently. Thus, little support was found for the hypothesis that compared to controls, batterers have more frontal lobe deficits. Future directions for research in this area are discussed.

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