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The Bender Visual Motor Gestalt test (or Bender-Gestalt test) is a psychological assessment used to evaluate visual-motor functioning, visual-perceptual skills, neurological impairment, and emotional disturbances in children and adults ages three and older.
The Bender-Gestalt is used to evaluate visual-motor maturity and to screen children for developmental delays. The test is also used to assess brain damage and neurological deficits. Individuals who have suffered a traumatic brain injury may be given the Bender-Gestalt as part of a battery of neuropsychological measures, or tests.
The Bender-Gestalt is sometimes used in conjunction with other personality tests to determine the presence of emotional and psychiatric disturbances such as schizophrenia.
Psychometric testing requires a clinically trained examiner. The Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test should be administered and interpreted by a trained psychologist or psychiatrist. The Bender-Gestalt should always be employed as only one element of a complete battery of psychological or developmental tests, and should never be used alone as the sole basis for a diagnosis.
The original Bender Visual Motor Gestalt test was developed in 1938 by psychiatrist Lauretta Bender. There are several different versions of the Bender-Gestalt available today (i.e., the Bender-Gestalt test; Modified Version of the Bender-Gestalt test for Preschool and Primary School Children; the Hutt Adaptation of the Bender-Gestalt test; the Bender Visual Motor Gestalt test for Children; the Bender-Gestalt test for Young Children; the Watkins Bender-Gestalt Scoring System; the Canter Background Interference Procedure for the Bender-Gestalt test). All use the same basic test materials, but vary in their scoring and interpretation methods.
The standard Bender Visual Motor Gestalt test consists of nine figures, each on its own 3 × 5 card. An examiner presents each figure to the test subject one at a time and asks the subject to copy it onto a single piece of blank paper. The only instruction given to the subject is that he or she should make the best reproduction of the figure possible. The test is not timed, although standard administration time is typically 10-20 minutes. After testing is complete, the results are scored based on accuracy and organization. Interpretation depends on the form of the test in use. Common features considered in evaluating the drawings are rotation, distortion, symmetry, and perseveration. As an example, a patient with frontal lobe injury may reproduce the same pattern over and over (perserveration).
The Bender-Gestalt can also be administered in a group setting. In group testing, the figures are shown to test subjects with a slide projector, in a test booklet, or on larger versions of the individual test cards. Both the individual and group- administered Bender-Gestalt evaluation may take place in either an outpatient or hospital setting. Patients should check with their insurance plans to determine if these or other mental health services are covered.
Children normally improve in this test as they age, but, because of the complexity of the scoring process, results for the Bender-Gestalt should only be interpreted by a clinically trained psychologist or psychiatrist.
American Psychological Association (APA). 750 First St. NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. (202) 336-5700. http://www.apa.org.
ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation. 1131 Shriver Laboratory (Bldg 075).
Neuropsychological test — A test or assessment given to diagnose a brain disorder or disease.
Perserveration — The persistence of a repetitive response after the cause of the response has been removed, or the response continues to different stimuli.
Visual-motor skills — Hand-eye coordination; in the Bender-Gestalt test, visual-motor skills are measured by the subject's ability to accurately perceive and then reproduce figures.
Visual-perceptual skills — The capacity of the mind and the eye to "see" something as it objectively exists.