Bette Bakke

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Previous research has suggested that adult children of alcoholics (ACAs) are at increased risk for the development of alcoholism. Differences between ACA and control subjects have been reported for a range of cognitive, affective and behavioral measures in addition to certain components of the auditory evoked potential, supporting speculation that biological or psychological markers exist as predictors of future alcoholism. The present study examined 20 males ACA and 20 male control subjects under either placebo or alcohol experimental conditions using cognitive measures (Digit Span, Trail Making, Digit Symbol) at baseline, peak and descent phase of the session that have been associated with proposed evoked potential and neuropsychological deficits among subjects with a positive history for alcoholism. The results failed to demonstrate predicted baseline deficits among ACA subjects in any of the dependent measures or placebo expectancy effects from either group. These previous results demonstrating cognitive deficits in ACA functioning were discussed in terms of research designs that possibly were confounded by subject drinking histories. The ACA subjects were found to demonstrate superior recovery of function on the Digit Span backward test at the descent phase of testing. These results appeared to support a hypothesis that ACA's are less influenced and recover faster from the effects of acute alcohol intoxication. This conclusion would appear consistent with previous studies describing diminished mood state changes, decreased sensitivity to bodily sensations and underestimates of blood alcohol levels by ACA subjects. Recommendations for future research are provided.

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