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Biol Psychiatry. 1988 Jul;24(3):310-5.

P300 latency after ethanol ingestion in sons of alcoholics and in controls.

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  • 1Alcohol Research Center, Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Diego, CA 92161.


The magnitude and persistence of ethanol-induced increases in the latency of the P3 event-related potential from auditory stimuli were evaluated in 21 sons of alcoholic fathers (FHP) and 21 control sons of nonalcoholics (FHN) matched on demography and drinking history. The men were assessed at baseline, 70 min after imbibing a beverage, and 240 min after drinking, with observations carried out for each individual in 3 dosage conditions (placebo, 0.75 ml/kg of ethanol, and 1.1 ml/kg of ethanol). There were no family group differences for baseline (prechallenge) P3 latencies, nor any significant group differences after placebo or low-dose ethanol challenges. However, in the high alcohol dose challenge condition, P3 latencies for FHP subjects returned toward baseline measures more quickly than for FHN men. These results are consistent with previous reports of behavioral and biochemical measures in which FHP subjects demonstrated less intense reactions or returned toward baseline conditions more rapidly after ethanol ingestion relative to the FHN controls.

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