Increased Stroop facilitation effects in schizophrenia are not due to increased automatic spreading activation

Deanna M. Barch, Cameron S Carter, William Perlstein, James Baird, Jonathan D. Cohen, Nina Schooler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Scopus citations


Studies using the single trial Stroop task consistently reveal increased reaction time (RT) facilitation effects among schizophrenia patients. One possible mechanism underlying this effect is increased automatic spreading activation in semantic networks. The current study was designed to test this hypothesis. We administered the Stroop task and two semantic priming tasks to the same subjects. Patients showed greater Stroop RT facilitation than controls, no evidence of increased semantic priming at short stimulus onset asynchronies (SOAs), and reduced semantic priming at long SOAs. In addition, abnormal Stroop performance was related to the severity of Disorganization symptoms. These results are inconsistent with the spreading activation hypothesis. Alternative hypotheses regarding the source of Stroop task performance deficits in schizophrenia are discussed. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-64
Number of pages14
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 23 1999
Externally publishedYes



  • Automatic spreading activation
  • Schizophrenia
  • Semantic priming
  • Stroop facilitation effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Psychology(all)

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