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Am J Med Genet. 2000 Oct 9;96(5):684-95.

Genetic and environmental influences on behavioral disinhibition.

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Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA.


Comorbidity among childhood disruptive behavioral disorders is commonly reported in both epidemiologic and clinical studies. These problems are also associated with early substance use and other markers of behavioral disinhibition. Previous twin research has suggested that much of the covariation between antisocial behavior and alcohol dependence is due to common genetic influences. Similar results have been reported for conduct problems and hyperactivity. For the present study, an adolescent sample consisting of 172 MZ and 162 DZ twin pairs, recruited through the Colorado Twin Registry and the Colorado Longitudinal Twin Study were assessed using standardized psychiatric interviews and personality assessments. DSM-IV symptom counts for conduct disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, along with a measure of substance experimentation and novelty seeking, were used as indices of a latent behavioral disinhibition trait. A confirmatory factor model fit to individual-level data showed a strong common factor accounting for 16-42% of the observed variance in each measure. A common pathway model evaluating the genetic and environmental architecture of the latent phenotype suggested that behavioral disinhibition is highly heritable (a(2) = 0.84), and is not influenced significantly by shared environmental factors. A residual correlation between conduct disorder and substance experimentation was explained by shared environmental effects, and a residual correlation between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and novelty seeking was accounted for by genetic dominance. These results suggest that a variety of adolescent problem behaviors may share a common underlying genetic risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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