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Effect of Age, Sex, Drinking History and Antisocial Personality on Neuropsychology of Alcoholics

Michie N. Hesselbrock, Meredith A. Weidenman, Homer B. C. Reed

The effects of age, sex, drinking history and the presence of antisocial personality (ASP) on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological Test Battery subtest scores of alcoholics were examined. Subjects (172 men and 72 women) were recruited from three inpatient alcoholism treatment facilities in the Hartford area and were evaluated approximately 1 week after admission. Brain Age Quotients (BAQ) were computed for each subject. The mean BAQ score for the total sample (84.1) was slightly more than one standard deviation below the normative value. Performance on the WAIS was within normal limits for both verbal and performance IQ. Scores on the Halstead-Reitan Battery showed evidence of moderate levels of impairment. Age was found to be the most significant factor affecting neuropsychological performance. It was observed that alcoholic subjects under 40 years of age performed at the lower end of the normal range of performance; older subjects showed mild to moderately severe levels of impairment. Significant interactional effects were observed between age, amount of alcohol consumed and sex for Tactual Performance Test total time. The presence of ASP interacted with sex to affect performance on Block Design and the Category Test such that ASP men performed at higher levels and ASP women at lower levels than their non-ASP counterparts. The ASP diagnosis also interacted with alcohol consumption to affect scores on Block Design. Possible explanations of these findings are discussed.