In the Color-Word Stroop test (CWST), the basic task is to name the ink color of rows of XXXs, and performance in this condition is compared with performance in naming the ink-color of color words under conditions where word meanings and ink colors mismatch or are incongruent (e.g., the word red printed in green ink). The present study investigated whether Stroop test interference, defined as the cost associated with ink-color naming in the incongruous stimulus condition versus in the basic color-naming condition, provides positive evidence for a kind of processing qualitatively different than that which is required for color naming or for word reading. Does the pattern of age-related differences in Stroop interference force the conclusion that the incongruous condition taps a qualitatively different kind of processing than that required for color naming or for word reading? We gave the CWST to 310 healthy adults. Their performance in each condition of the test replicates and extends previous findings. Structural equation modeling of the data showed a significant, direct link between age and performance in the latent factor associated with the incongruent condition. However, this direct link with age produced a relatively small increase in the model's fit; it amounted to only a .024 increase in the proportion of variance explained in the incongruent condition. In light of this small direct influence due to age, the most parsimonious explanation of our findings is that age effects in Stroop interference are due to age-related slowing (which is also indexed by color naming and by word reading) primarily; the findings do not provide evidence for a qualitatively different kind of processing that declines with age.
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