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Interference of Stimuli on Associative Tasks – The Stroop Effect

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The Stroop Effect demonstrates how interference causes the brain to experience a slower processing time because it is trying to sort through conflicting information it is receiving from outside sources.

In the Stroop Effect, if someone is given a list of words for colors printed in another color ink and asked to name the color of the ink used to print each word, the subject will experience a delayed reaction time. This is because the subject’s brain is trying to suppress the input from the printed words in order to focus on the color of the words. The individual words have a huge influence over the ability to say the color. The interference between the differing information the brain receives, what the words say, and the color of the words, causes a problem.

This test looks at the overall effect of doing these interference tasks has on an individual and is sometimes used in psychological testing and assessment. Students are often introduced to the Stroop Effect in psychology class as they learn about how their brains process information or via the internet when a friend sends out “this cool puzzle they saw”.

There are also some of other physiological effects of the Stroop Effect on the body: increased sweating, increased heart rate, increased respiration – all of which can be typical signs of stress. Stroop Testing can also be used to assess mental acuity after a brain injury, in psychological testing, and in other types of work where people want to learn more about brain functioning.

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