Although neuropsychological evaluations are used as part of the basis for legal and rehabilitation decisions regarding juvenile delinquents, the effects of psychiatric disorders on their neuropsychological functioning are not sufficiently addressed in the literature. The present study examined the influence of emotional disturbance on neuropsychological test performance in a juvenile delinquent population. Regression analyses were conducted to determine the extent to which scores on the Youth Self-Report (YSR) Anxious/Depressed, Withdrawn/Depressed, and Somatic Complaints scales and the Drug Use Screening Inventory (DUSI) Substance Use scale predicted performance on measures of language, executive functions, visual-spatial ability, memory, and attention. Results indicated that the Anxious/Depressed scale was a significant predictor of visual-graphic memory (b = .40, t = 2.72, p < .01), the Somatic Complaints scale was a significant predictor of executive functions (b = -.42, t = -3.11, p < .01), and the Substance Use scale was a significant predictor of visual-spatial construction (b = -.25, t = -2.12, p < .05). However, YSR and DUSI subscale scores accounted for only 5-10% of the variance in these measures. Notably, social-emotional functioning was not associated with neuropsychological test performance on eight measures. These findings indicate emotional disturbance is generally not a significant influence on the neuropsychological functioning of juvenile delinquents.
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