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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Henri Begleiter Neurodynamics Laboratory

Neurophysiology in Children at High Risk for Alcoholism

This project uses a "neurophysiological high risk" model, in which adolescents are hypothesized to be at risk based solely on their extreme scores on neurophysiological features that are associated with a number of clinical conditions, such as alcohol dependence, substance abuse, etc.

This is a long-term project (10 years) in which we will be testing individuals on neurophysiological measures and then re-contacting them to determine clinical outcome.

More detailed:

It has been repeatedly observed that the P3(00) component of the event-related potential (ERP) is not only significantly lower in alcoholics, but also in young offspring of alcoholics at high risk (HR) for developing alcoholism. These observations suggested that reduced amplitudes of the P3 component in HR individuals might antecede the development of alcohol dependence. There is evidence that reduced P3 voltage in childhood and adolescence in HR individuals is associated with externalizing disorders (conduct disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity, oppositional defiant disorder and adult antisocial behavior) and increased substance use, and may predict later substance and alcohol abuse. A meta-analysis of all HR studies concluded that the low amplitude P3 in HR individuals is a reliable phenotypic marker of alcoholism, and it has been postulated to be indicative of increased Central Nervous System (CNS) disinhibition. Therefore, P3 and other measures can be used as a marker to provide insight into some causative pathophysiology process involved in the development of alcohol dependence.