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Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test

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The Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test or simply the Bender-Gestalt test is a psychological test first developed by child neuropsychiatrist Lauretta Bender. The test is used to evaluate "visual-motor maturity", to screen for developmental disorders, or to assess neurological function or brain damage.

The test consists of nine figures, each on its own 3 × 5 card. The subject is shown each figure and asked to copy it onto a piece of blank paper. The test typically takes 10-20 minutes, after which the results are scored based on accuracy and other characteristics.

Bender first described her Visual Motor Gestalt Test in an 1938 monograph entitled: A Visual Motor Gestalt Test and Its Clinical Use. The figures were derived from the work of the famous Gestalt psychologist Wertheimer. The Bender-Gestalt test as it is now often called, is typically among the top five tests used by clinical psychologists. It measures perceptual motor skills, perceptual motor development and gives an indication of neurological intactness. It has been used as a personality test and a test of emotional problems.

There are a variety of scoring systems for the test:

  • Elizabeth M. Koppitz's system for Children (1963)
  • Pascal & Suttell system for Adults (1951);
  • Hutt & Briskin Projective personality feature system (1960);
  • Arthur Canter's Background Interference Procedure (BIP) test for organicty (1976)

The test has been used as a screening device for brain damage. Bender herself said it was "a method of evaluating maturation of gestalt functioning children 4-11's brain functioning by which it responds to a given constellation of stimuli as a whole, the response being a motor process of patterning the perceived gestalt."

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