Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate if the Bender test, administered to late preschoolers and evaluated with a neuropsychological scoring system , can identify and predict executive dysfunctions at preschool age and in late adolescence, respectively.
Participants and Methods: As part of the longitudinal Stockholm Neonatal Project, 134 adolescents born preterm with very low birth weight (< 1500g) and 94 matched controls born at term, participated in follow-up studies at ages 5 ½ and 18 years. On both occasions, the participants were assessed with an age appropriate intelligence test and tests of executive functions (EF) . Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test was given at age 5 ½, and scored with ABC neuropsychological system. Stepwise regression analysis was used to investigate how cognitive outcome at age 18 was predicted by the Bender ABC score and EF at age 5 ½, gender, medical risk, birth weight ratio, and parental education. The validity of the Bender ABC neuropsychological score in screening for executive dysfunction was evaluated by Receiver Operating Characteristics-analysis (ROC).
Results: Bender ABC neuropsychological scores predicted general intelligence and EF at 18 years almost as well as a more comprehensive battery, in both groups. ROC analysis showed that the Bender ABC had good diagnostic and predictive validity for identifying executive dysfunctions, with AUC-values of .84 in both cases.
Conclusion: Bender with ABC neuropsychological scoring is a promising screening instrument for identifying executive dysfunctions before school start.