P300 amplitude as an indicator of externalizing in adolescent males

Christopher J. Patrick, Edward M. Bernat, Stephen M. Malone, William G. Iacono, Robert F. Krueger, Matt McGue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Scopus citations


Reduced P300 amplitude is reliably found in individuals with a personal or family history of alcohol problems. However, alcoholism is part of a broader externalizing spectrum that includes other substance use and antisocial disorders. We hypothesized that reduced P300 is an indicator of the common factor that underlies disorders within this spectrum. Community males (N=969) were assessed at age 17 in a visual oddball task. Externalizing was defined as the common factor underlying symptoms of alcohol dependence, drug dependence, nicotine dependence, conduct disorder, and adult antisocial behavior. A robust association was found between reduced P300 amplitude and the externalizing factor, and this relation accounted for links between specific externalizing disorders and P300. Our findings indicate that reduced P300 amplitude is an indicator of the broad neurobiological vulnerability that underlies disorders within the externalizing spectrum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-92
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Externalizing
  • P300
  • Psychopathology

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