Error-related neural activity and alcohol use disorder: Differences from risk to remission

Stephanie M. Gorka*, Lynne Lieberman, Kayla A. Kreutzer, Vivian Carrillo, Anna Weinberg, Stewart A Shankman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Studies suggest that individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) display abnormal neural error-processing, measured via the error-related negativity (ERN). The nature of the error-related abnormalities in AUD is unclear, however, as prior research has yielded discrepant findings. In addition, no study to date has attempted to characterize the dispositional nature of the ERN in AUD and directly test to what extent ERN amplitude reflects a risk factor, disease marker, and/or scar of AUD psychopathology. The current study compared ERN amplitude across 244 adult volunteers in the following five groups: 1) current AUD (n = 39), 2) AUD in remission (n = 60), 3) at-risk for AUD (n = 43), 4) psychiatric controls with comparable rates of internalizing psychopathology as the AUD groups (n = 53), and 5) healthy controls with no lifetime history of psychopathology (n = 49). Risk for AUD was defined as a positive, first-degree family history. All participants completed a well-validated flanker task, designed to robustly elicit the ERN, during continuous electroencephalographic (EEG) data collection. Results indicated that individuals with current AUD displayed smaller ERNs compared with individuals at-risk for AUD, with AUD in remission, psychiatric controls, and healthy controls. There were no differences amongst any of the other groups. This suggests that a blunted ERN may be concomitant with current AUD psychopathology and relatedly, a novel neurobiological AUD treatment target and/or objective marker of AUD disease status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-278
Number of pages8
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
StatePublished - Jun 8 2019


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Error-processing
  • Error-related negativity
  • Risk factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology


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