The Stroop Color-Word Task as a Measure of Selective Attention: Efficiency in the Elderly

Eli Vakil, Rachel Manovich, Esther Ramati, Haya Blachstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Many studies have reported impaired selective attention in the elderly. Recent studies have isolated various underlying mechanisms of selective attention such as excitation, inhibition, and habituation. In the present study, 50 young adults and 50 elderly participants were compared on four conditions based on the Stroop Color-Word task (neutral, habituation, Stroop and negative priming). Cross comparison of the different tasks enables examination of the various components of selective attention. The neutral condition serves as a baseline for the groups, enabling between-groups comparison of proportional interference. The hypothesis that overall reading time of the younger group would be faster than that of the older group was confirmed. The hypothesis that the overall reading time pattern between task conditions would be neutral < habituation < Stroop < negative priming, was confirmed as well. Contrary to our prediction, negative priming caused more interference than the Stroop task for the elderly participants in the comparison between the Stroop and the negative priming conditions. This effect was found whether reading time or proportional interference was measured. Furthermore, in reading time, but not in the proportional measure, the effect was even stronger in the elderly than in the young participants. These results are discussed in terms of the unique characteristics of the Stroop Color-Word task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-325
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Neuropsychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


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