Visual p3 in female alcoholics

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2001 Apr;25(4):531-9.


Background: The P300 (P3) component of the event related potential has been established as a sensitive risk marker of vulnerability to alcoholism. Most alcoholism studies have focused on men; recent studies indicate that women are equally vulnerable to developing alcoholism.

Methods: Visual P3 recorded from 31 electrode positions was evaluated in 44 alcoholic and 60 control women, 24-50 years of age. P3 amplitudes and latencies of the two groups were statistically compared using Analysis of Variance; source localization of surface amplitude values from each group were plotted using a low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography.

Results: The results indicated that alcoholic women had significantly smaller P3 amplitudes in the frontal and central regions compared with controls. Source localization showed lowered activation in alcoholic women in right dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex and the ventro-medial fronto-central regions.

Conclusions: The results suggest that P3 is an equally sensitive endophenotypic marker of vulnerability to alcoholism in women. The findings are discussed in terms of functional and physiologic significance of the P3 amplitude in alcoholic women and its relationship to drinking behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers / physiology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged


  • Genetic Markers