Heritable features of the auditory oddball event-related potential: peaks, latencies, morphology and topography

S. O'Connor, S. Morzorati, J. C. Christian, T. K. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

104 Scopus citations


Baseline auditory ERP data from a larger study of the genetic determinants of the response to alcohol were collected from 59 monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs and from 39 same-sex dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs who drank socially. Three methods for measuring genetic influence on the ERPs were applied. First, based on maximum-likelihood estimates, the heritability of conventional peak amplitude and latency of N1 and P3 components was computed for each of 16 lead locations using tests of the significance of heritability based on intraclass correlations. P3 amplitude provided the strongest results, distributed symmetrically over caudal leads, and implied gene dominance as the mode of genetic transmission for the P3 component. A substantial genetic influence on N1 latency suggested a mixture of additive and dominance effects in the left fronto-temporal region. N1 amplitude measures trended towards significant heritability, but none was observed for P3 latency. The second method used the maximum of the cross-correlation function to compare wave form shape in a lead-by-lead analysis of data from cotwins. Genetic influence was apparent in both target and non-target ERP responses, with a fronto-central topography of significant results. The third method reduced all spatial and temporal ERP differences from a pair of twins to a single scalar number for each response. Distributions of this global measure revealed significant genetic influence on both non-target and target ERPs. A post hoc analysis of the effect of gender on the heritability of N1 or P3 peaks and latencies revealed no statistically significant observations in this sample of young adult twins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-125
Number of pages11
JournalElectroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology/ Evoked Potentials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1994


  • Event-related potentials
  • Heritability
  • Morphology
  • Topography
  • Twins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)

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