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Executive functioning in male adolescent sex offenders

25 July 2005


Research findings suggest juvenile delinquents have impairments in executive functions, cognitive abilities mediated by the prefrontal lobes. However, the possibility that executive functions are uniquely or differentially impaired in sexually abusive adolescents has not been tested. The present study compared executive functions of 24 male adolescent sex offenders to two control groups: 24 male juvenile delinquents without a history of sex offending, and 24 normal controls. The Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS), a test battery of executive functions, was used. All groups were matched for age, gender and ethnicity. There were significant differences between controls and the two delinquent groups on four of the eight D-KEFS subtests examined. However, no significant differences were found in test performance between the two juvenile delinquent groups. Juvenile sex offenders were found to have significant difficulty with tasks involving response inhibition and utilization of verbal feedback when compared to non-delinquent controls. In addition, after controlling for the effects of attention deficit, both delinquent groups showed significantly lower scores than non-delinquent controls on tasks designed to measure abstract concept formation. However, after controlling for the effects of estimated IQ, there were no significant differences in executive functioning performance between any of the three groups.


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