Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society



Brain activation and pupil response during covert performance of the Stroop Color Word task


GREGORY G.  BROWN a1c1, SANDRA S.  KINDERMANN a1, GREG J.  SIEGLE a1, ERIC  GRANHOLM a1, ERIC C.  WONG a1a2 and RICHARD B.  BUXTON a2
a1 Psychiatry Department, University of California San Diego and VA San Diego Healthcare System
a2 Radiology Department, University of California San Diego and VA San Diego Healthcare System

Abstract

Patterns of brain activation associated with covert performance of the Stroop Color–Word task were studied in young, healthy, adult volunteers using blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Comparisons of the incongruous Stroop condition were made with both color naming and word reading baselines. Areas of the left and right anterior cingulate, the right precuneus, and the left pars opercularis displayed larger BOLD signal responses during the incongruous Stroop condition than during baseline conditions. Activation of BOLD signals in these areas was highly repeatable. In a second experiment, pupil diameter was used to assess cognitive load in 7 individuals studied during overt and covert performance of both Stroop and color naming conditions. Cognitive load was similar in overt and covert response conditions. Results from the BOLD study indicate that brain regions participating in selective visual attention and in the selection of motor programs involved in speech were activated more by the Stroop task than by the baseline tasks. The neural substrate involved in the resolution of the perceptual and motor conflicts elicited by the Stroop Color–Word task does not appear to be a single brain region. Rather, a network of brain regions is implicated, with separate regions within this system supporting distinct functions. (JINS, 1999, 5, 308–319.)

(Received November 25 1997)
(Revised June 22 1998)
(Accepted June 25 1998)


Key Words: Stroop Color–Word Interference Test; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Selective attention.

Correspondence:
c1 Reprint requests to: Gregory G. Brown, Psychology Service (116B), VASDHS, 3350 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego, CA 92161. E-mail: gregb@alive5.ucsd.edu.


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