Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2007  |  Volume : 49  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 182-188

Cognitive deficits in children of alcoholics: At risk before the first sip!

1 Department of Psychiatry, J. N. Medical College, K. L. E. University, Belgaum, India
2 Deaddiction Centre, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
4 Department of Neuropsychology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Vivek Benegal
335, 29th Main, 9th Cross, H.S.R. Layout, Sector 1, Bangalore - 560 034, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.37319

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Background: High family loading for alcoholism, early onset of alcohol use and childhood disinhibitory behaviors, persisting into adulthood, increase the susceptibility to alcoholism. At the psychophysiology level, reduced amplitude of the P300 component of the Evoked Response Potential is associated with externalizing psychopathology in children. Children of alcoholics have reduced P300 amplitudes. Preliminary data suggests a developmental lag phenomenon in the maturation of the P300. Aims: The study compares the amplitude and topography of the P300 generated in response to a visual task, between subjects at high risk (HR) and those at low risk (LR) for alcoholism and its relation to externalizing behaviors. Results: HR subjects have lower P300 amplitudes over frontal brain areas. Differences are greater in young, tending to converge with increasing age. There is a strong association between this reduced brain activation and an excess of externalizing behaviors in HR individuals. Conclusion: A maturational lag in brain development causing central nervous system disinhibition and externalizing behaviors may underlie the susceptibility to alcoholism.



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