P300 amplitude in nonalcoholic adolescent twin pairs who become discordant for alcoholism as adults


  • This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants DA 05147, AA 00175, and AA 09367.

Address reprint requests to: W.G. Iacono, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. E-mail: wiacono@tfs.psych.umn.edu.


Past reports suggest that reduced P300 amplitude is associated with risk for alcoholism. We examined whether visual P300 amplitude could identify familial risk for alcohol disorders in individuals not known to be at risk at the time P300 was recorded. These individuals were twins from pairs where neither twin had an alcohol disorder at age 17 but familial risk was established at age 20 when one twin developed an alcohol disorder whereas the other did not. Of special interest was the P300 of the unaffected twin recorded at age 17 when both twins were alcoholism free. We found reduced P300 in the unaffected twin compared to pairs where both members were continuously disorder free. Hence, P300 was reduced in alcohol disorder-free individuals whose twin siblings subsequently developed alcoholism, further supporting reduced P300 amplitude as an endophenotype indexing familial risk for alcoholism.