Date of Award

Summer 1986

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Bardwell, Rebecca

Second Advisor

Fox, Robert

Third Advisor

Ivanoff, John


Some of the most dramatic and persistent changes in social behavior result from damage to the frontal lobes of the brain. Frequently seen behavioral changes include impulsivity, poor social judgment and immaturity. Few studies have systematically investigated the changes in social behavior through direct observation of brain injured patients. Direct observation offers the opportunity to understand deviant behavior within the context of social interaction. The purpose of this study was to develop a method of direct observation to assess the deficits resulting from damage to the frontal lobes. Observations were made using an interactional matrix to record both the subject's behavior as well as that of the other individual under three observation conditions. One condition was a highly structured, frustrating situation while the others were more unstructured. The matrix provided a means of observing how the subjects respond to various antecedent behaviors. The types of social behavior assessed included impulsivity, apathy and negative behavior. In addition to the subjects with frontal lobe damage, a normal control group and a brain injured comparison group with discrete lesions to the posterior region of the brain were studied. All subjects received a neuropsychological assessment and the accompanying family member or close friend rated the subject's social behavior. The observational matrix did not differentiate between the groups and in fact, very few deviant behaviors were seen. This was in contrast to the behavior reported by the accompanying family member or friend which indicated that the frontal lobe group was more negative, confused, and withdrawn than the comparison groups. In general the findings of the neuropsychological measures and the behavioral reports replicated previous research. The frontal lobe subjects performed significantly poorer on measures of intellectual functioning, abstract reasoning, attention and memory. The reasons for the inability of the observational matrix to differentiate between the groups is discussed.



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