The emotional counting Stroop paradigm: a functional magnetic resonance imaging probe of the anterior cingulate affective division

Biol Psychiatry. 1998 Dec 15;44(12):1219-28. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(98)00251-0.


Background: The emotional counting Stroop (ecStroop) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activation paradigm was designed to recruit the anterior cingulate affective division (ACad).

Methods: Nine normal, healthy male and female subjects (mean age 24.2 years) reported via button press the number of neutral and negative words that appeared on a screen while reaction time and fMRI data were acquired.

Results: We observed a) greater ACad activation for negative versus neutral words during initial presentation blocks; b) lower overall ACad signal intensity during task performance (i.e., both negative and neutral words) compared to the baseline fixation condition; and c) no reaction time increase to negative versus neutral words.

Conclusions: In a companion study of a cognitive version of the counting Stroop (Bush et al 1998), these same 9 subjects a) activated the more dorsal anterior cingulate cognitive division; b) also showed the overall decrease in ACad signal intensity; and c) demonstrated a reliable reaction time effect. Taken together, these data offer a within-group spatial dissociation of AC function based upon information content (i.e., cognitive vs. emotional) and/or presence of behavioral interference. We propose that the ecStroop will be a useful fMRI probe of ACad function in anxiety disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Psychological Tests
  • Reaction Time
  • Reference Values