Preliminary Evidence of Neuropsychological Impairment in an Accountability Court Population Open Access

Kim, Da Seul (2016)

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The issue of substance abuse in the United States continues to grow. Substance abuse has significant consequences for neuropsychological functioning. Specifically, chronic alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine use all impact the prefrontal cortex, which is implicated in executive functioning. Neuropsychological functioning speaks to the relationship between brain and behavior while executive functioning speaks specifically to higher-level processes such as decision-making, self-control, and planning. Drug courts (formally known as "accountability courts") have been gaining public and legal support as research has shown their efficacy in reducing crime and substance abuse. They are also reported to improve family relationships and increase employment rates. However, while research shows that neuropsychological functioning is implicated in outcomes of a drug court problem, current feedback from drug court administrators suggests that neuropsychological measures are not considered as a routine part of an evaluation. The main objective of this study aimed to establish a neuropsychological profile of individuals in the Fulton Country Accountability Court in Atlanta, Georgia. The second objective focused on predictor variables within neuropsychological variables in regards to drug court outcomes. The findings suggest that individuals in a drug court population show evidence of neuropsychological impairments compared to a normal control population. However, no significant neuropsychological predictor variables were found. Possible explanations as well as implications for future directions in neuropsychological assessments of individuals in a drug court population are discussed.

Table of Contents

I. List of Figures. i

II. List of Tables. ii

III. Introduction. 1

IV. Methods. 10

Subjects. 10

Measures. 11

Procedure. 15

V. Results. 15

VI. Discussion. 21

Future Directions. 31

Limitations and Strengths. 33

Conclusions. 33

VII. References. 35

VIII. Appendix. 50

Figures. 50

Tables. 55

IX. Endnotes. 57

Abbreviations. 57

DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for substance abuse. 57

Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). 58

Trail Making Test (TMT). 59

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