Vol. 8, No. 3, 2002 Page 4&6

Conduct disordered teens, male batterers show
signs of brain dysfunction

Teens with early onset conduct disorder show neurological deficits similar to those seen in adolescents with left hemisphere brain injuries, according to research by Zarabeth and Charles Golden.

The researchers administered a battery of cognitive tests to 15 adolescents diagnosed with conduct disorder, comparing them to 12 teens with left hemisphere brain injuries, 11 with right hemisphere brain injuries, and 15 with no disabilities. "Results indicated," they say, "that the normal group had the least problems cognitively (as expected), while the conduct disorder and left hemisphere groups showed the worst cognitive difficulties." (Those with right hemisphere injuries exhibited an intermediate range of deficits.)

"This leads to the suggestion that many of the symptoms seen in conduct disorder, which are similar to the symptoms seen in left hemisphere injured children, may arise from a more subtle form of brain injury," the researchers say. "If this is the case, many of the same treatments used with the brain injured adolescents may be appropriate for the conduct disorder group as well." They suggest, for example, that conduct-disordered children, like those with left hemisphere injuries, may need high levels of structure at school and at home.

Earlier research by Charles Golden, Gordon Teichner, et al. found that male batterers also exhibit evidence of brain dysfunction, with 48 percent exhibiting signs of significant neurological impairment. This rate is much higher than expected, they say, given the 5.9 percent incidence of head injury in the general population.

"Specific functional skills deficits were identified within the male batterer sample," the researchers note, "including deficits of immediate and delayed visual memory, cognitive flexibility, inability to inhibit verbal responses, psychomotor speed, and focused attention." The researchers say that identifying neurological dysfunction in batterers is crucial, because this group is unlikely to benefit from the insight-oriented or cognitive therapies generally used to treat batterers.

The researchers' data reinforce findings by A. Rosenbaum et al., who found that 53 percent of male batterers had a history of head injuries (compared to 25 percent of unhappily married nonviolent men and 16 percent of happily married nonviolent men), and that in 93 percent of head-injured batterers the injury preceded the first incidence of battering.


"Do early onset conduct disordered adolescents perform like brain injured or normal adolescents on cognitive tests?" Zarabeth L. Golden and Charles J. Golden, International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 111, No. 1-2, 2001, 109-21. Address: Charles Golden, Center for Psychological Services, Nova Southeastern University, 3301 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314.

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"Assessment of cognitive functioning in men who batter," Gordon Teichner, Charles J. Golden, Vincent B. van Hasselt, and Angela Peterson, International Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 11, 2001, 241-53. See address above.

Related Article: [2003, Vol. 9]

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