Stroop performance in healthy younger and older adults and in individuals with dementia of the Alzheimer's type

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1996 Apr;22(2):461-79. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.22.2.461.


Components of the Stroop task were examined to investigate the role that inhibitory processes play in cognitive changes in healthy older adults and in individuals with dementia of the Alzheimer's type (DAT). Inhibitory breakdowns should result in an increase in Stroop interference. The results indicate that older adults show a disproportionate increase in interference compared with younger adults. DAT individuals show interference proportionate to older adults but a disproportionate increase in facilitation for congruent color-word trials, and an increased intrusion of word naming on incongruent color naming trials. An ex-Gaussian analysis of response time distributions indicated that the increased interference observed in older adults was due to an increase in the tail of the distribution. Application of the process dissociation analysis of the Stroop task (D.S. Lindsay & L.L. Jacoby, 1994) indicated that older adults showed increased word process estimates, whereas DAT individuals showed differences in both color and word process estimates. Taken together, the results are consistent with an inhibitory breakdown in normal aging and an accelerated breakdown in inhibition in DAT individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology*
  • Attention*
  • Color Perception*
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reaction Time
  • Reading*
  • Semantics