September 2019 AJP Editor Spotlight: Deep Behavioral Phenotyping in Alcohol Use Disorder


Kwako and colleagues present important, new
data on considering ways we might categorize groups of patients with alcohol use disorders. This new study conducts what is often called
a deep phenotyping approach. It examines a group of individuals with alcohol
use disorders, and it characterizes them in a wide range of symptomatic features. And the study suggests that there might be
meaningful subtypes of patients with alcohol use disorders based on the clinical features
of those patients. Patients, for example, might cluster into
one group that has particularly notable problems with executive functions. Moreover, other groups of patients might be
characterized based on their emotional symptoms, either related to mood and anxiety problems,
or related to incentive salience. These types of deep phenotyping studies provide
important clues for our readers when they’re thinking about what are the best ways to understand
other variables, like measures from brain imaging and genetics. These measures might relate less strongly
to overall risk for substance use disorders than they relate to the types of parameters
examined in this important, new study.

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