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Minimal Brain Dysfunction

Psychology EncyclopediaDiseases, Disorders & Mental Conditions

A term often used either in connection (or interchangeably) with hyperactivity and/or attention deficit disorder.

Minimal brain dysfunction was formally defined in 1966 by Samuel Clements as a combination of average or above average intelligence with certain mild to severe learning or behavioral disabilities characterizing deviant functioning of the central nervous system. It can involve impairments in visual or auditory perception, conceptualization, language, and memory, and difficulty controlling attention, impulses, and motor function. Minimal brain dysfunction is thought to be associated with minor damage to the brain stem, the part of the brain that controls arousal. A likely cause of this type of damage is oxygen deprivation during childbirth. While such damage does not affect intelligence, it does have an effect on motor activity and attention span. Minimal brain disorder usually does not become apparent until a child reaches school age.

Minimal brain dysfunction has also been linked to heredity; poor nutrition; exposure to toxic substances; and illness in utero. Other symptoms that may be associated with the disorder include poor or inaccurate body image, immaturity, difficulties with coordination, both hypoactivity and hyperactivity, difficulty with writing or calculating, speech and communication problems, and cognitive difficulties. Secondary problems can include social, affective, and personality disturbances.

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