P3 amplitudes in two distinct tasks are decreased in young men with a history of paternal alcoholism

S. O'Connor, V. Hesselbrock, A. Tasman, N. DePalma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Visual event-related potentials (ERPs) were obtained in two groups of young adult male subjects: One group (N = 24) considered to be at high risk for alcoholism due to paternal alcoholism and the second group (N = 26) with no family history of alcoholism. Results presented here were obtained during a baseline (no drug) condition. The ERP tasks both were target detection paradigms, but differed in several respects. One paradigm involved continuous participation in a distracting tracking task, but used an easily interpreted target stimulus. The second task involved no distractions, but entailed more complex stimuli. Both paradigms utilized level of task difficulty as an experimental variable. The results from both tasks were quite similar and demonstrated significantly lower ERP amplitudes in the high risk compared to the low risk group. Reaction times to target stimuli did not discriminate group membership, but were related to perceived task difficulty. Task difficulty was not a useful variable in discriminating group membership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-330
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987
Externally publishedYes


  • Event related potentials
  • Genetic risk for alcoholism
  • P3 component
  • Principal components analysis
  • Visual target recognition task

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'P3 amplitudes in two distinct tasks are decreased in young men with a history of paternal alcoholism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this