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Vulnerable at rest? A resting-state EEG study and psycho-social factors of young adult offspring of alcohol-dependent parents.

BACKGROUND: Offspring of parents with alcohol use disorder (AUD) are more susceptible to developing AUD, with an estimated heritability of around 50%. Vulnerability to AUD in first-degree relatives is influenced by biological factors, such as spontaneous brain activity, and high-risk psychosocial characteristics. However, existing resting-state EEG studies in AUD offspring have shown inconsistent findings regarding theta, alpha, and beta band frequencies. Additionally, research consistently demonstrates an increased risk of internalizing and externalizing disorders, self-regulation difficulties, and interpersonal issues among AUD offspring.

METHODS: This study aimed to investigate the absolute power of theta, alpha, and beta frequencies in young adult offspring with a family history of AUD compared to individuals without such a history. The psychosocial profiles of the offspring were also examined in relation to individuals without a family history of AUD. Furthermore, the study sought to explore the potential association between differences in frequency bands and psychosocial variables. Resting-state EEG recordings were obtained from 31 young adult healthy offspring of alcohol-dependent individuals and 43 participants with no family history of AUD (age range: 16-25 years). Participants also completed self-report questionnaires assessing anxiety and depressive symptoms, impulsivity, emotion regulation, and social involvement.

RESULTS: The results revealed no significant differences in spontaneous brain activity between the offspring and participants without a family history of AUD. However, the offspring exhibited significantly lower social involvement compared to the control group regarding psychosocial factors.

CONCLUSIONS: This study does not provide evidence suggesting vulnerability in offspring based on differences in spontaneous brain activity. Moreover, this investigation highlights the importance of interventions aimed at enhancing social connections in offspring. Such interventions can not only reduce the risk of developing AUD, given its strong association with increased feelings of loneliness but also improve the overall well-being of the offspring.

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