Current status of the neuromaturational examination as an index of learning disability

J Pediatr. 1984 Jun;104(6):819-25. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(84)80474-6.


To further define the role of the neuromaturational examination in determining the presence of learning problems, we examined 104 boys, ages 9.5 to 14.1 years, representing three populations of school children: normal (32 boys), gifted (37), and learning disabled (35). Information concerning each child's behavior and development was obtained through a parent questionnaire; cognitive ability and academic achievement were measured by the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children (revised) and Woodcock -Johnson Psychoeducational Battery, respectively. Significant relationships emerged between the number of neuromaturational signs and data group membership (LD greater than N greater than G,P less than 0.05). The number of neuromaturational signs decreased with age for normal (P less than 0.05) and gifted (P less than 0.05) children, but not for the learning-disabled group. Tasks that differentiated the normal and learning disabled were entered into a stepwise discriminant analysis, with a resulting classification accuracy of 93.1% and 100% for the normal and learning-disabled boys, respectively. Analysis of covariance indicated that differences in performance of the three groups may reflect IQ differences among the populations. Learning disabled boys were more likely to exhibit synkinesis than normal boys, but gifted boys did not differ from the learning disabled in the frequency of synkinesis. Our data indicate that, although a composite set of neuromaturational tasks can discriminate normal and learning-disabled boys with a high level of accuracy, caution is urged because the findings may be more related to overall intelligence than to a specific learning disability.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Gifted / psychology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Intelligence Tests*
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Physical Examination
  • Psychomotor Performance*