The Effects of Age on Stroop Interference in Clinical vs. Healthy Groups of Children
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The Stroop task is widely used to assess attentional dysfunction due to a frontal or frontoparietal deficit and is also thought to be related to the maturation of the prefrontal cortex. The study aimed to prove the diagnostic usefulness of the Polish Names and Colors Interference Test (TINiK) in a clinical setting and to investigate the pattern of performance on four TINiK subtasks according to the type of brain damage (focal or diffuse) and age of the patients. A total of 107 subjects (62 female, 45 male) aged 11-18 were divided into two groups: children aged 10;4-14;6 and adolescents aged 14;7-17;10 within each diagnostic category: healthy (H - 35), heterogeneous focal brain damage (BD - 36) and cardiac arrhythmia (CA - 36). The number of correct responses in the 60s time limit was collected for each TINiK task. The H group significantly outperformed both clinical groups. The H and CA groups show improvement of performance systematically with age on all TINiK subtasks although at a different level. The BD group displayed merely non-significant developmental improvement especially among the adolescent group. A discriminant analysis using the four basic TINiK scores was able to significantly differentiate the BD from the H group (83.1%) and the BD from the CA group (74.6%), but less well the CA from the H group (63.9%). TINiK has acquired preliminary neuro-psychological validation in Polish children. Developmental improvement in interference control may be hampered by various neuropathological mechanisms which are yet to be identified.
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