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Front Psychol. 2019 Sep 6;10:2028. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02028. eCollection 2019.

Attentional Reorientation and Inhibition Adjustment in a Verbal Stroop Task: A Lifespan Approach to Interference and Sequential Congruency Effect.

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1
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Abstract

Several parameters influence the interference effect elicited in a Stroop task, especially contextual information. Contextual effects in the Stroop paradigms are known as the Gratton or Sequential congruency effect (SCE). This research aims at isolating two processes contributing to the SCE in a Stroop paradigm, namely attentional reorientation from the color to the word and vice-versa, as well as inhibition (engagement/disengagement from one trial to the next one). To this end, in Study 1 subprocesses of the SCE were isolated. Specifically, attentional reorientation and inhibition were segregated by submitting young adults to a discrete verbal Stroop task including neutral trials. In Study 2, the same procedure was applied to 124 participants aged from 10 to 80 years old to analyze how interference, SCE, and the aforementioned decomposition of attention and inhibition change across the lifespan. In both studies, the Gratton effect was only partially replicated, while both attentional reorientation and inhibition effects were observed, supporting the idea that these two processes contribute to SCE on top of conflict monitoring and of other processes highlighted in different theories (contingency learning, feature integration, and repetition expectancy). Finally, the classical age-related evolution was replicated in Study 2 on raw interference scores, but no age effect was observed when processing speed was taken into account, nor on the isolated attentional reorientation and inhibition processes, which is in line with the hypothesis of stability of the inhibition processes over age.

KEYWORDS:

Gratton; Stroop; attention; conflict adaptation; inhibition; interference; sequential congruency effect; verbal responses

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