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Biol Psychiatry. 2005 Jan 1;57(1):76-82.

Direct and mediated associations between P300 amplitude in childhood and substance use disorders outcome in young adulthood.

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  • 1Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, University of Pittsburgh, 711 Salk Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.



Attenuated amplitude of the P300 wave has been frequently documented in youths at high risk for substance use disorders (SUDs). This investigation had two aims: 1) determine whether P300 amplitude in late childhood is a predictor of SUD outcome by age 19; and 2) evaluate whether neurobehavior disinhibition (ND) mediates this association.


Boys (aged 10-12) were recruited through proband biological fathers with either a lifetime DSM-III-R diagnosis of SUD (N = 67) or no adult psychiatric disorder (N = 94). P300 amplitude was recorded during an auditory oddball task. Neurobehavior disinhibition was evaluated using tests of executive cognitive function, behavior under control, and emotion dysregulation. The relationship is assessed using multiple and logistic regressions.


Substance use disorder by age 19 was significantly predicted by P300 amplitude (odds ratio [OR] = .958; 95% confidence interval [CI] = .918-.999; Wald chi (2) = 3.992; df = 1; p = .045) and ND score (OR = 1.060; 95% CI = 1.023-1.098; Wald chi (2) = 10.267; df = 1; p = .0014) measured at age 10 to 12. P300 amplitude also significantly correlated with ND severity (beta = -.217; t = -2.412; df = 6,160; p = .017). Low P300 amplitudes were observed in children who succumbed to SUD by age 19.


These results indicate that ND mediates the association between attenuated P300 amplitude in childhood and SUD at age 19; however, P300 amplitude is not a specific childhood marker of SUD.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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