Abstract

Objective: Despite the paucity of appropriate normative data, neuropsychological test results are used in high-stakes decisions about nondominant culture adjudicated youth (i.e., non-Caucasian descent). The purpose of this study was to examine effects of nondominant culture membership and delinquency on neuropsychological test performance. Method: Ninety-two adolescents ages 13–17 were placed into four groups: Caucasian delinquents, non-Caucasian delinquents, Caucasian controls, and non-Caucasian controls. Groups were matched on gender (74% male), and age (±4 months). Delinquent subjects were in court mandated residential treatment or a corrections facility. Participants completed measures of language, visuospatial/construction, auditory-verbal memory, visual-graphic memory, academic achievement, and executive functions. Results: There was a significant interaction between cultural group and delinquency status for spelling, F(1, 88) = 6.26, p = 0.01, word-reading, F(1, 88) = 4.94, p = 0.03, visual-graphic memory, F(1, 86) = 6.07, p = 0.02, and conceptual reasoning, F(1, 88) = 3.85, p = 0.05. The Caucasian control group performed significantly better than all groups for spelling, word-reading, and conceptual reasoning. The Caucasian delinquent group performed significantly worse than the Caucasian control and nondominant delinquent groups for visual-graphic memory. There were no main effects for cultural group for any tests. Conclusion(s): These findings suggest the combination of dominant culture membership and non-delinquency afford an advantage on tests of academic achievement and executive functions. Otherwise, delinquency is more strongly associated with lower neuropsychological test scores than nondominant cultural group membership. One limitation of this study is that the nondominant culture group was composed of multiple ethnic minority groups.