Conflict-related medial frontal theta as an endophenotype for alcohol use disorder

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Diminished cognitive control in alcohol use disorder (AUD) is thought to be mediated by prefrontal cortex circuitry dysregulation. Research testing the relationship between AUD and specific cognitive control psychophysiological correlates, such as medial frontal (MF) theta-band EEG power, is scarce, and the etiology of this relationship is largely unknown. The current report tested relationship between pathological alcohol use through young adulthood and reduced conflict-related theta at age 29 in a large prospective population-based twin sample. Greater lifetime AUD symptomatology was associated with reduced MF theta power during response conflict, but not alpha-band visual attention processing. Follow-up analyses using cotwin control analysis and biometric modeling suggested that genetic influences, and not the consequences of sustained AUD symptomatology, explained the theta-AUD association. Results provide strong evidence that AUD is genetically related to diminished conflict-related MF theta, and advance MF theta as a promising electrophysiological correlate of AUD-related dysfunctional frontal circuitry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-38
Number of pages14
JournalBiological Psychology
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Health grants DA005147 and AA009367 . J.H. was supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 00039202 .


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Cognitive control
  • Cotwin control
  • EEG
  • Endophenotype
  • Theta

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