Stroop interference: aging effects assessed with the Stroop Color-Word Test

Exp Aging Res. Jul-Sep 1993;19(3):209-24. doi: 10.1080/03610739308253934.


A large, cross-sectional aging investigation of performance on the Stroop Color-Word Test (SCWT) was carried out. Subjects were 247 volunteers, ages 20-80 in seven age levels. Although all subjects thought themselves to be normal and healthy, a post hoc division could be made on the basis of biological life events (BLE). BLE are mild biological or environmental factors, such as repeated experiences of general anesthesia, that can hamper optimal brain functioning. Apart from the anticipated age effects, performance was poorer in subjects who had experienced one or more BLE: The slowing due to BLE was comparable to the effect of age, especially on the task involving language interference in color-naming. Education had a significant effect on performance: More highly educated subjects performed better than less educated subjects. No sex differences were observed. These findings replicate observations made with other tests in parallel studies. They are also in line with several other studies reporting interactions between the effects of aging and physical fitness. This study questions some of the validity of cognitive aging research, as our data suggest that screening for BLE as age-extrinsic factors in nondiseased subjects can reduce many of the performance deficits usually ascribed to aging per se.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiology
  • Color
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Sex Factors