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J Abnorm Psychol. 1990 Nov;99(4):398-402.

Selective processing of threat cues in posttraumatic stress disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Health Sciences, Chicago Medical School, Illinois 60064.


Vietnam combat veterans with (n = 15) and without (n = 15) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) performed a modified Stroop task in which they named the colors of neutral words (e.g., INPUT), positive words (e.g., LOVE), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) words (e.g., GERMS), and PTSD words (e.g., BODYBAGS). In contrast to normal controls, PTSD patients took significantly longer to color-name PTSD words than to color-name neutral, OCD, and positive words. Because Stroop interference reflects involuntary semantic activation, it may provide a quantitative measure of intrusive cognitive activity--the hallmark symptom of PTSD.

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