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Biol Psychiatry. 1999 Mar 15;45(6):776-87.

Electroencephalographic responses to alcohol challenge in Native American Mission Indians.

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  • 1Department of Neuropharmacology, Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, USA.



Native Americans have some of the highest rates of alcohol abuse and dependence, yet potential central nervous system risk factors responsible for the problem drinking seen in some tribes remain relatively unknown.


Background electroencephalographic (EEG) variants and response to alcohol were investigated in 48 Native American Mission Indian men between 18 and 25 years old.


Subjects with 50% or greater Native American heritage had a significantly higher proportion of low-voltage EEG variants. Within this sample of Mission Indian men, however, a family history of alcohol dependence was associated with a greater incidence of high voltage alpha EEGs. Mission Indian men also evidenced a "less depressant, more stimulating" response to alcohol as quantified by less alcohol-induced reductions in alpha, greater EEG stability, and increased alcohol-induced beta activity.


These findings demonstrate that certain genetically regulated EEG variants that have been previously associated with risk for alcoholism in Caucasians may also be more common in these Mission Indian men. Additionally, EEG measures of response to alcohol do not provide support for the commonly held idea that Indians are more sensitive to the depressant effects of alcohol.

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