Separating semantic conflict and response conflict in the Stroop task: A functional MRI study

Vincent Van Veen, Cameron S Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


Attentive behavior requires the ability to perform in the face of distraction. Distracting information can cause conflict at any level along the information processing stream. However, it is not yet known whether the brain has distinct subsystems dedicated to detecting and resolving these different forms of distraction. Although previous studies have localized brain activity during semantic and response conflict, no prior study has specifically determined whether these activations occur in distinct or overlapping regions. We used a modified version of the Stroop color-word task, by which we were able to separate semantic from response conflict. Behavioral data indicate that these two kinds of conflict both contribute to the overall Stroop interference effect, while fMRI data indicate that they elicit non-overlapping activation in anterior cingulate, prefrontal, and parietal brain regions. These results suggest that the brain has distinct but parallel attentional mechanisms for resolving these different forms of cognitive interference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-504
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Anterior cingulate cortex
  • Attention
  • Executive control
  • Interference
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Stroop

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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