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The impact of multiple sclerosis on patients’ performance on the Stroop Test: Processing speed versus interference



Deficits in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients’ performance on the Stroop Test have been attributed to problems with processing speed and selective attention. Data for 248 MS patients and 178 controls on all three trials of the Stroop were combined using various scoring formulas proposed for assessing processing speed, color difficulty, and interference. The greatest differences between patients and controls involved processing speed. Formulas purporting to measure interference yielded highly inconsistent results: Significant differences between groups were found on two of the most common measures but were in opposite directions. This contradiction stems from the failure of both measures to effectively control for processing speed when assessing interference. Three alternative measures, using relative, ratio, and residualized scores, offer much better indices of interference. When assessed with these alternative measures, interference increased with age, but no differences between patients and controls were found. Difficulties that MS patients have with the Stroop Test are confined to processing speed. (JINS, 2009, 15, 451–458.)


Corresponding author

*Correspondence and reprint requests to: Douglas R. Denney, Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, 1415 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence, Kansas 66045-7556. E-mail:


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Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
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