P300 amplitude in adolescent twins discordant and concordant for alcohol use disorders

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The sons of alcoholics have repeatedly been found to have reduced P300 amplitude. Further, quantitative behavioral genetic and molecular genetic studies indicating a genetic influence on P300 amplitude have fueled speculation that this component may be a biological vulnerability marker for alcoholism. To further explore this possibility, we examined P300 in adolescent twin pairs from an epidemiological sample who were (a) discordant for alcohol abuse/dependence, (b) concordant for alcohol abuse/dependence, or (c) concordant for the absence of alcohol abuse/dependence and other relevant disorders. For discordant pairs, the alcohol abusing/dependent twins' amplitude did not differ from that of non-alcoholic co-twins. Pairs free of psychopathology had greater amplitudes than both alcoholism discordant and concordant pairs. P300 amplitude was more similar in monozygotic than dizygotic discordant pairs, suggesting a genetic influence on P300 amplitude in this group. The findings are consistent with P300 amplitude being a marker of vulnerability to alcohol use disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-227
Number of pages25
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA 05147, DA 13240) and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (AA 00175, AA 09367). The authors acknowledge the assistance of Stephen M. Malone and Micah A. Hammer in scoring the ERPs.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Alcohol abuse/dependence
  • Biological markers
  • Discordant twins
  • Endophenotype
  • P300 amplitude


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