Boys at risk for alcoholism show deviant P300 amplitude development. Genetic influences on P300, however, are related to a range of externalizing disorders. This study examined whether P300 development from adolescence to early adulthood differed between groups varying in severity of paternal externalizing. Parietal P300 was assessed during the "rotated heads" task on up to 3 times between the ages of 17 and 24 years. Participants were divided into 3 paternal externalizing groups: (a) severe (father has adult antisocial behavior), (b) intermediate (father has alcohol dependence but not a more severe disorder), and (c) low (father has no externalizing disorders or substance treatment and is not extreme in alcohol use). Mixed models were used to evaluate linear change in amplitude. P300 decreased with age. The severe-risk group had smaller P300 initially and changed less with time than did the low-risk group. The intermediate-risk group did not differ significantly from the low-risk group, but differed marginally from the severe-risk males. Externalizing and early-onset substance disorders in the sons were associated with smaller initial values of P300. Measures of deviant P300 development may be vulnerability markers for externalizing psychopathology.
- P300 amplitude
- growth model