Researchers Reveal Stroop Test Patterns Based on ADHD Subtype


The main predictors of SCWT performance was maternal education and housing conditions.

Vanessa Arán Filippetti, PhD

Vanessa Arán Filippetti, PhD

New research reveals insight into how attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) subtype might impact cognitive testing performance.

A team, led by Vanessa Arán Filippetti, PhD, National Scientific and Technical Research Council, conducted a trip of studies examined predictors of Stroop performances in accordance with socioeconomic status and ADHD subtype.

The Studies

In the first study the researchers examined the cognitive predictors, including working memory, inhibition, cognitive flexibility, reading, and intelligence of each Stroop Color and Word Test (SCWT) condition, such as word, color, and color-word, as well as the convergent and divergent validly measures.

In the second study, the investigators examined the socioeconomic predictors of SCWT performance, establishing normative values associating to socioeconomic status and age.

For the third and final study, the research team analyzed the distinctive patterns of performance according to SES and ADHD subtype.

The studies included 779 children from Middle-SES and 129 from Low-SES, as well as 44 ADHD children. The researchers evaluated inattentive compared to combined subtype for ADHD.

The Results

The results of the first study show SCWT conditions are selectively linked to reading speed and executive functions (EFs). However executive function was not found to depend on the individual’s IQ.

For the second study, the researchers found distinct patterns of SCWT performance according to SES and selective associations between socioeconomic indicators and SCWT conditions. The main predictors of this was maternal education and housing conditions.

Finally, in the third study the researchers found distinctive patterns of SCWT performance according to ADHD subtype. There was no differences on the interference measure among the different groups.

“Our findings support the validity of the SCWT as a measure of inhibition in TD children,” the authors wrote. “However, when the pattern of SCWT performance is different from the typical expected one (i.e., Word score higher than Color score and this, in turn, higher than Color–Word score), the interference measure should be interpreted with caution but without disregarding the relevant and distinctive information provided by each SCWT condition.”

The Impact of Maternal Depression

Earlier this year researchers found maternal psychiatric conditions could forecast the likelihood the offspring will develop ADHD in late adolescence.

A team, led by Getinet Ayano, MSc, School of Public Health, Curtin University, explored the association between maternal anxiety and depressive symptoms and the risk of ADHD symptoms in late adolescence.

Previous research has shown that maternal anxiety and depressive symptoms are linked to an increased risk of ADHD in offspring in early and late childhood. However, there is not many studies conducted examining the risk of ADHD in late adolescence.

Overall, there was an increased risk of ADHD symptoms in offspring of mothers with comorbid anxiety and depressive symptoms when compared to the offspring of mothers with no symptoms (RR, 5.60; 95% CI, 3.02-10.37).

However, there was nearly a three-fold increase in the risk of ADHD symptoms in the offspring of mothers with increased anxiety symptoms specifically when compared to the offspring of mothers who were in the normal range (RR, 2.84; 95% CI, 1.18-6.83). There was no association observed involving the offspring of mothers with depressive symptoms.

The study, “Cognitive and socioeconomic predictors of Stroop performance in children and developmental patterns according to socioeconomic status and ADHD subtype,” was published online in Psychology & Neuroscience.

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