Motor-Free Visual Perception Test (MVPT)

Purpose of the measure

The Motor-Free Visual Perception Test (MVPT) is a widely used, standardized test of visual perception. Unlike other typical visual perception measures, this measure is meant to assess visual perception independent of motor ability. It was originally developed for use with children (Colarusso & Hammill, 1972), however it has been used extensively with adults. The most recent version of the measure, the MVPT-3, can be administered to children (> 3 years), adolescents, and adults (< 95 years) (Colarusso & Hammill, 2003).

The MVPT can be used to determine differences in visual perception across several different diagnostic groups, and is often used by occupational therapists to screen those with stroke or head injury.

Available versions

Original MVPT.
The original MVPT was published by Colarusso and Hammill in 1972.

MVPT – Revised Version (MVPT-R).
The MVPT-R was published by Colarusso and Hammill in 1996. In this version, four new items were added to the original MVPT version (40 items in total). Age-range norms (U.S.) were also added to the original MVPT, to include children up to the age of 12. No adult data were collected when the scale was developed, however, the MVPT-R has been used with both pediatric and adult populations (Brown, Rodger, & Davis, 2003). While the MVPT-R has been reported to have an excellent correlation with the original MVPT (r = 0.85, Colarusso and Hammill, 1996), Brown et al. (2003) caution that no other reliability and validity data have been reported for this version.

MVPT – 3rd Edition (MVPT-3).
The MVPT-3 was published by Colarusso and Hammill in 2003. The MVPT-3 was a major revision of the MVPT-R, and includes additional test items that allow for the assessment of visual perception in adults and adolescents. The MVPT-3 is intended for individuals between the ages of 4-95, and takes approximately 25 minutes to administer. (

Features of the measure

Items of the measure:

The items for the original MVPT, MVPT-R and MVPT-3 are comprised of items representing 5 visual domains:

Source: Colarusso & Hammill, 1996

Visual Discrimination The ability to discriminate dominant features in different objects; for example, the ability to discriminate position, shapes, forms, colors and letter-like positions.
Visual Figure-Ground The ability to distinguish an object from its background.
Visual Memory The ability to recall dominant features of one stimulus item or to remember the sequence of several items.
Visual Closure The ability to identify incomplete figures when only fragments are presented.
Visual Spatial The ability to orient one’s body in space and to perceive the positions of objects in relation to oneself and to objects.

Note: These five domains do not represent different subscales or subtests and thus cannot be used to yield individual scores.

Original MVPT.
Contains 36 items.

Contains 40 items. Since the MVPT-R includes children up to 12 years old, four items were added to the items of the original MVPT to accommodate the increased age-range covered by the norms of the MVPT-R.

Contains 65 items. Before administering the MVPT-3, the examiner must ask for the patient’s date of birth and compute their age. This will determine where in the test one should begin. Children between the ages of 4-10 begin with the first example item and complete items 1-40. Individuals between the ages of 11-95 begin with the third example item and complete items 14-65. All of the items that fall within an individual’s age group must be administered.

Each item consists of a black-and-white line drawing stimulus, along with four multiple-choice response options (A, B, C, D) from which to choose the item that matches the example. For most items, the stimulus and response choices appear on the same page. The stimulus drawing appears at the top of the page above a row of four multiple-choice options (see image below).

Below are four examples of test items and their corresponding multiple-choice response options:

Items assessing visual memory have the stimulus and multiple-choice options presented on separate pages. For these items, the stimulus page is presented for 5 seconds, removed, and the options page is then presented. Items with similar instructions are grouped together in order of increasing difficulty. The patient points to or says the letter that corresponds to the desired answer (Su et al. 2000). The examiner records each response on the recording form.

To ensure that the patient understands the task instructions, example items are presented for each new set of instructions. Examiners must ensure that the patient understands these directions before proceeding to the next domain.

Subscales: None.

Original MVPT and MVPT-R.
Materials for the test include the manual that describes the administration and scoring procedures, the test plate book, score sheet, stopwatch and a pencil (Brown et al., 2003).

Materials for the test include the manual that describes administration and scoring procedures, a recording form to record patient responses, and a spiral-bound test plates easel.

Various health professionals, including occupational therapists, teachers, school psychologists, and optometrists, can administer all versions of the MVPT. Only individuals familiar with both the psychometric properties and the score limitations of the test should conduct interpretations (Colarusso & Hammill, 2003).

Original MVPT and MVPT-R.
The test takes 10-15 minutes to administer, and 5 minutes to score (Brown et al., 2003).

According to the manual, the MVPT-3 takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to administer and approximately 10 minutes to score.

Original MVPT and MVPT-R.
One point is given for each correct response. Raw scores are then converted to age and perceptual equivalents to allow for a comparison of the patient’s performance to that of a normative group of same-aged peers.

A single raw score is formed, representing the patients overall visual perceptual ability. The raw score is calculated by subtracting the number of errors made from the number of the last item attempted. The total scores range from 55-145. Higher scores reflect fewer deficits in general visual perceptual function. The raw score can then be converted to standard scores, age equivalents, and percentile ranks using the norm tables provided in the manual, which will allow for the comparison of a patient’s performance to that of a normative group of same-aged peers.

Alternative form of the MVPT
  • MVPT – Vertical Version (MVPT-V) (Mercier, Hebert, Colarusso, & Hammill, 1996).
    Response sets are presented in a vertical layout rather than the horizontal layout found in other versions of the MVPT. This layout allows for an accurate assessment of visual perceptual abilities in adults who have hemifield visual neglect, commonly found in patients with stroke or traumatic brain injury. These patients are unable to attend to a portion of the visual field, and may therefore miss any answer choices that are presented in one part of the visual field when they are presented horizontally. The MVPT-V contains 36 items. Mercier, Herbert, and Gauthier (1995) reported excellent test-retest reliability for the MVPT-V (ICC = 0.92).

Note: The MVPT-V removes unilateral visual neglect as a variable in test performance and therefore should not be used to assess driving ability (Mazer, Korner-Bitensky, & Sofer, 1998).

Client suitability

Can be used with: Patients with stroke.

The MVPT can be used in patients with expressive aphasia if they are able to understand instructions and the various sub-scale requirements.

Should not be used in:

  • Children under the age of 4.
  • The MVPT calculates a global score and thus provides less information regarding specific visual dysfunction than a scale that provides domain-specific scores (Su et al., 2000). To assess various domains of visual perceptual ability, an alternative with good pscyhometric properties is the Rivermead Perceptual Assessment Battery. It has 16 different subtests assessing various aspects of visual perception. It takes between 45-50 minutes to administer and has established reliability (Bhavnani, Cockburn, Whiting & Lincoln, 1983) and validity (Whiting, Lincoln, Bhavnani & Cockburn, 1985) and was designed to assess visual perception problems in patients with stroke (Whiting et al., 1985).
  • The is administered via direct observation of task completion and cannot be used with a proxy respondent.
  • The MVPT-3 should be used only as a screening instrument with 4-year-old children but can be used for diagnostic purposes in all other age groups (Colarusso & Hammill, 2003).
  • McCane (2006) argues that although Colarusso and Hammill (2003) state that the MVPT-3 can be used as a diagnostic tool in all age groups other than in four year olds, even more cautious interpretation is needed. This is based on the generally accepted notion that the reliability of a tool should be ? 0.90 to be used for diagnostic and decision-making purposes (Sattler, 2001). Therefore, the MVPT-3 should only be used as a diagnostic tool in adolescents between 14-18 years old because this is the only age group in which reliability exceeds 0.90.
  • The MVPT-V removes unilateral visual neglect as a variable in test performance and therefore should not be used to assess driving ability (Mazer et al., 1998).
In what languages is the measure available?

No information is currently available regarding the languages in which the instructions to the MVPT have been translated.

Note: because the test requires no use of verbal response by the respondent, if the clinician can determine through the use of the practice items that the individual understands the task requirements, then it is possible to use the test with minimal language use.