Recent findings from the application of electrophysiologic measurement
techniques to research in alcoholism are reviewed. Computerized
electroencephalography has detected subtle but significant differences in
the information processing abilities of alcohol research subjects compared
to control subjects. The differences may reflect the effects of a paternal
history of alcoholism; the effects of acute, progressive, and chronic
alcohol use; or the effects of abstinence following dependence on ethanol.
Because they are revealed in several paradigms and across stimulus
modalities, the electrophysiologic findings are robust. The results are
clearest in response to visual stimuli and in tasks requiring active
attention and evaluation of stimulus properties. Methodological and
technical problems associated with the research are also reviewed.