Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Minimal brain dysfunction (MBD) in children is described in terms of diagnosis, symptomatology, etiology, prevalence, and prognosis. The MBD area is reviewed with reference to brain damage (BD), non-BD, and empirical models of classfication. A rationale is developed for empirically derived categories of MBD using (a) a comprehensive assessment battery, (b) the administration of this battery to BD, MBD, and normal children, (c) a factor analysis of the children's scores on the test variables, and (d) a cluster analysis of all the children based on the similarity of their factor score profiles. In addition, a canonical correlation between early life-history data and the factor scores in each cluster is used to determine the presence of any early high-risk signs that could predict a child's subsequent behavior. In the actual investigation, 90 Ss ranging from 8 to 12 years of age were divided into three groups on the basis of a priori criteria, Group I consisting of 11 children with verified BD, Group II consisting of 55 children with learning and/or behavior problems indicative of MBD, and Group III consisting of 24 children who are progressing normally through school with no history of neurological impairment. Administration of the assessment techniques yielded 36 scoring variables, which were intercorrelated and submitted to a principal components analysis. The majority of the total variance was accounted for by six factors, which are discussed in terms of the test variables comprising them. A multivariate analysis of variance determined that the overall pattern of factor scores differs from one group to the others. Univariate analyses of variance were used to compare differences among the three groups on each factor. The MBD group differed the most from the other groups, while the BD and normal groups were more similar. MBD children were characterized by their social, learning, and motor problems, while BD children were described in terms of their deficits in learning and motor areas. In terms of profile similarities, MBD children contrasted the most with normal children. The results of the cluster analysis yielded five meaningful clusters. MBD classified children showed the least similarity of factor profiles, while the normal group showed the greatest similarity. Differences among cluster profiles were not significant. Also, the canonical correlation failed to show any systematic relationship between factor scores for each cluster and early life-history variables. The findings led to hypotheses concerning the behaviors observed and reported in MBD, as well as to considerations for future research. A unitary view of MBD behavior is contraindicated. Treatment implications for reclassified MBD children are also discussed.