Performance in a blocked versus randomized emotional Stroop task in an aged, early traumatized group with and without posttraumatic stress symptoms

Charlotte E. Wittekind*, Christoph Muhtz, Steffen Moritz, Lena Jelinek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background and objectives Attentional biases (AB) for trauma-related stimuli have been examined in many studies assessing different trauma samples. In emotional Stroop tasks (EST), blocked and single-trial formats are used almost interchangeably in clinical research. There is reason to believe that different designs yield different results and assess different processes, which, however, has been hardly examined in studies. Furthermore, there is a dearth of information about AB in older trauma survivors with posttraumatic stress symptoms. Methods Older adults with (n = 20) and without PTSD symptoms (n = 26) as well as non-traumatized controls (n = 21) completed an EST, in which words were presented both blocked and randomized. Results Analyses revealed that individuals with PTSD symptoms showed AB for trauma- and depression-related words; however, mode of administration did not significantly influence reaction times. Limitations The emotional Stroop task cannot disentangle the underlying cognitive mechanism (i.e.; facilitation, interference, avoidance). Conclusions PTSD symptoms in older trauma survivors are associated with AB. Overall, participants with PTSD symptoms did not show greater impairment of cognitive control in comparison to both control groups. Results also illustrate that methodological differences between task versions need to be considered more thoroughly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-43
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Volume54
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • attentional biases
  • stroop
  • PTSD
  • block
  • random
  • interference

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