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J Abnorm Psychol. 1990 Aug;99(3):291-301.

Inherited predisposition to alcoholism: characteristics of sons of male alcoholics.

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Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Sons of male alcoholics (SOMAs) are at markedly heightened genetic risk for the development of alcohol abuse. Study of SOMAs could therefore conceivably increase the efficiency of research aimed at uncovering those heritable factors that predispose to alcoholism. SOMAs manifest observable behavioral, cognitive, and psychophysiological abnormalities while sober and react idiosyncratically to alcohol intoxication. They are most commonly described as conduct disordered and hyperactive, appear heir to a variety of deficits in verbal and abstract cognition, and perform more poorly in the academic environment. SOMAs are characterized by abnormal patterns of cued psychophysiological response, and appear more sensitive to the putatively reinforcing aspects of alcohol intoxication. Various methodological weaknesses permeate the relevant literature. Some straightforward improvements are suggested.

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