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Assessment of Prepubertal and Postpubertal Boys and Girls at Risk for Developing Alcoholism with P300 from a Visual Discrimination Task:

Shirley Y. Hill, Stuart R. Steinhauer

A total of 86 children (45 male) between the ages of 8-18 who were from families that were either at high- or low-risk for developing alcoholism were evaluated in a visual event-related potential paradigm. The children responded to two target conditions (hard and easy) and a blank condition by pressing an appropriate button. P300 amplitude was reduced in prepubescent boys who were at high-risk for developing alcoholism. Reaction time data for type of target indicated that, while latency was longer for the hard condition compared to the easy one, no significant differences by risk status were found. Performance accuracy did not differ by group status. These behavioral findings suggest that P300 amplitude is an electrophysiological marker of alcoholism risk in young boys. (J. Stud. Alcohol 54: 350-358, 1993)