Frontal-lobe cognitive dysfunction in conduct disorder adolescents

J Clin Psychol. 1990 Nov;46(6):696-706.


Behavioral similarities between antisocial behavior disorders and frontal-lobe cerebral impairment have led to suggestions that conduct disorders are attributable to disinhibition deficit associated with frontal-lobe cerebral functions. This study compared the performance of 21 conduct disorder adolescents on measures of cognitive processes associated with frontal-lobe functions with that of a matched comparison sample. Conduct disorder adolescents performed more poorly on measures sensitive to frontal-lobe dysfunction (conceptual perseveration, poorly sustained attention, impaired sequencing on memory and motor tasks), but not on non-frontal-lobe specific cognitive measures. Although the findings support a neurobehavioral explanation of antisocial behavior as a product of cerebral disinhibition, caution is urged in overinterpreting causal relationships through neurobehavioral data.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / physiopathology
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency / psychology
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / physiopathology
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / psychology
  • Neuropsychological Tests* / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Thinking / physiology