Frontal Deficits in Alcoholism: An ERP Study

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Alcoholism is a major health problem afflicting people all over the world. Understanding the neural substrates of this addictive disorder may provide the basis for effective interventions. So-called “executive processes” play a role in cognitive functions like attention and working memory, and appear to be disrupted in alcoholism (Noel et al., 2001). Event related potentials (ERPs) provide an excellent, minimally invasive technique for exploring these neural deficits. The current study used the P300 in number sequencing task (modified version of the Petrides & Milner, 1982) requiring working memory to compare a group of patients with alcoholism and frontal lobe lesions to patients with subcortical lesions and normal controls to assess the relationship of alcoholism to frontal lobe damage. The ERP paradigm was a Number Sequencing task. Electrophysiological results indicate that the frontal lesion group had significant P300 amplitude reduction and a similar trend for alcohol dependent group but not the subcortical group compared to the normal controls.

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Brain and Cognition, v. 54, issue 3, p. 245-247