The Stroop tests are included under the neuropsychological tests title. These tests measure the brain’s capabilities of channeling the attention, conceptual flexibility, and the mind’s operational speed.
Also being used in brain imaging studies like fMRI, the Stroop tests helped us analyze what part of the brain is functioning during the individual’s performances like planning, decision-making, etc. This way, it is possible to determine the impaired brain part for diagnosing and describing psychiatric and neurological disorders. Nevertheless, they are not enough for making diagnoses by themselves. They are administered together with a group of different neuropsychological tests, and all tests must indicate the same disorder to make a diagnosis.
The Stroop tests stemmed from the studies carried out over the “Stroop Effect Theory ”. Briefly, the Stroop effect theory mentions that automatic reactions occur faster than those that require thinking. Accordingly, when the name of a color is written with a different color of ink and when an individual is asked about the color of the ink, s/he either has delays in answering or gives a wrong answer. Because reading automatically is faster than describing the color.
Even though the ink of the word and the word point out the same color in the further examinations, the person cannot give an automatic and fast answer as the automatic reaction is inhibited. Based on the correctness and timing of the answer given by the person, attention channeling, conceptual flexibility and the mind’s operational speed are reported.
Stroop (1935) explained the studies he conducted as follows: When an automatically answered duty is offered in a confusing way, a different part of the brain starts functioning: Anterior Cingulate Cortex. This part is located in the front part of the brain, inside the cerebral cortex. It is in charge of controlling intentional behaviors. While showing a low performance during impulsive behavior, it shows a high performance during thought-based behaviors. Upon the impairment of this part, some problems are observed in planning and monitoring the behaviors, while impulsive behaviors tend to be on the rise; for instance, impatience, thoughtless actions, finding some behaviors odd.
There are different types of Stroop tests. The most frequently used type is the Color/Word Test, which also has another version for children, describing animals.