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Comparison of Neuropsychological Performance between Students from Public and Private Brazilian Schools

Abstract

Neuropsychological assessment reveals that certain cognitive changes that take place during the neural development process may be associated with biopsychosocial issues. A substantial body of research has focused on cognitive development in children and adults, but few such studies have been carried out on adolescents. Therefore, research into the processing of neuropsychological functions in adolescents, taking into account the role of major socio-cultural factors such as school type (public vs. private), is highly relevant. The present study sought to assess whether differences in neuropsychological development exist between adolescent students of public (government-funded) and private schools. A total of 373 grade-matched students between the ages of 12 and 18, 190 from public schools and 183 from private schools, took part in the study. All subjects had no self-reported neurologic or psychiatric conditions and sensory disorders. The NEUPSILIN Brazilian Brief Neuropsychological Assessment Battery was administered to this sample. Comparison of mean scores (one-way ANCOVA with socioeconomic score and age as covariates) showed that adolescents attending private schools generally outperformed their public-school peers in tasks involving sustained attention, memory (working and visual), dictated writing, and constructional and reflective abilities. We conclude that school type should be taken into account during standardization of neuropsychological assessment instruments for adolescent and, probably, child populations.

La evaluación neuropsicológica evidencia los cambios cognitivos durante el proceso de neurodesarrollo que pueden asociarse a cuestiones biopsicosociales. Existe un número considerable de investigaciones sobre el desarrollo cognitivo en niños y adultos, pero pocos estudios con adolescentes. Por tanto es relevante investigar cómo los adolescentes procesan las funciones neuropsicológicas, considerando el papel de factores socioculturales importantes como el tipo de escuela (pública o privada). El objetivo del presente estudio fue investigar si existen diferencias neuropsicológicas de ejecución entre adolescentes de en escuelas públicas y privadas. Participaron del estudio 373 estudiantes, 190 de escuela pública y 183 de escuela privada, con edades entre 12 y 18 años, emparejados por grado escolar. Ninguno de los sujetos mostraba alteraciones neurológicas, psiquiátricas o sensoriales auto relatadas. Esta muestra fue examinada con el Instrumento Brasileño de Evaluación Neuropsicológica Breve NEUPSILIN. La comparación de medias (ANCOVA unidireccional con puntuación socioeconómica y edad como covariantes) mostró que en general los estudiantes de escuela privada superan a sus pares de escuela publica en atención concentrada, memoria (de trabajo y visual), lenguaje escrito, capacidades constructivas y reflexivas. De esta forma, se concluye que el tipo de escuela debe tenerse en cuenta durante la normalización de instrumentos de evaluación neuropsicológica para adolescentes, y probablemente, población infantil.

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Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Fabíola Schwengber Casarin. Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul. Av. Ipiranga, 6681 - Prédio 11 - 9° andar, sala 932. CEP: 90619-900. Porto Alegre/RS. (Brazil) E-mail: fabiolacasarin@gmail.com
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The Spanish Journal of Psychology
  • ISSN: 1138-7416
  • EISSN: 1988-2904
  • URL: /core/journals/spanish-journal-of-psychology
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