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Neuroimage. 2002 May;16(1):61-75.

A developmental fMRI study of the Stroop color-word task.

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Departments of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, 94305, USA.


We used fMRI to investigate developmental changes in brain activation during a Stroop color-word interference task. A positive correlation was observed between age and Stroop-related activation (n = 30) in the left lateral prefrontal cortex, the left anterior cingulate, and the left parietal and parieto-occipital cortices. No regions showed a negative correlation between activation and age. We further investigated age-related differences by stratifying the sample into three age groups: children (ages 7-11), adolescents (ages 12-16), and young adults (ages 18-22). Young adult subjects (n = 11) displayed significant activation in the inferior and middle frontal gyri bilaterally, the left anterior cingulate, and bilateral inferior and superior parietal lobules. Between-group comparisons revealed that young adults had significantly greater activation than adolescent subjects (n = 11) in the left middle frontal gyrus and that young adults showed significantly greater activation than children (n = 8) in the anterior cingulate and left parietal and parieto-occipital regions, as well as in the left middle frontal gyrus. Compared to children, both adult and adolescent subjects exhibited significantly greater activation in the parietal cortex. Adult and adolescent groups, however, did not differ in activation for this region. Together, these data suggest that Stroop task-related functional development of the parietal lobe occurs by adolescence. In contrast, prefrontal cortex function contributing to the Stroop interference task continues to develop into adulthood. This neuromaturational process may depend on increased ability to recruit focal neural resources with age. Findings from this study, the first developmental fMRI investigation of the Stroop interference task, provide a template with which normal development and neurodevelopmental disorders of prefrontal cortex function can be assessed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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