Absence of visual and auditory P300 reduction in nondepressed male and female alcoholics

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Biological Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 10.26). 11/1999; 46(7):982-9. DOI: 10.1016/S0006-3223(99)00054-2
Source: PubMed


The P300 component of the event-related potential has been extensively studied as a possible neurobiological risk marker for the development of alcoholism. Although P300 amplitude reduction has frequently been documented in high-risk children, studies of adult alcoholics are inconsistent.
P300 amplitude from 121 adult alcoholics was compared to 68 controls utilizing event-related potential paradigms from the auditory and visual modalities. All participants were evaluated clinically with psychiatric interviews and administered the MMPI.
Male alcoholics did not show a reduction in amplitude in either the auditory or visual modality. Female alcoholics showed reduced P300 amplitude, but only when a comorbid lifetime diagnosis of depression was present. Similar results were found using current depressed mood (Scale 2 from the MMPI).
No differences in P300 amplitude were found between alcoholics and controls unless comorbid depression was present. Therefore, P300 amplitude reduction seen in children at high-risk for developing alcoholism seems to represent a neurodevelopmental delay that normalizes by adulthood.

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    • "Deficits caused by dysfunction of any of these brain areas would eventually lead to deficits in the resultant response inhibition. ERP studies of long term alcoholics as well as on individuals at risk for developing alcoholism, have consistently reported reduced P3 amplitude in various task paradigms (Begleiter et al., 1984; Cohen et al., 2002; Ehlers et al., 2001, 2007; Hada et al., 2000; Hill et al., 1999a; Hill and Shen, 2002; Hill et al., 1999b; Porjesz and Begleiter, 1987, 1990, 1991; Prabhu et al., 2001; Rodriguez Holguin et al., 1999; Suresh et al., 2003; for a meta-analysis see Polich et al., 1994; Porjesz et al., 2005). In Go/NoGo tasks, the anteriorly distributed NoGo P3 potentials have markedly reduced amplitudes in alcoholic subjects as well as in high-risk individuals, indicating impaired inhibitory control in these individuals (Cohen et al., 1997a, 1997b; Kamarajan et al., 2005a, 2005b; Saunders et al., 2008). "
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