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Computerized Stroop Test to Assess Selective Attention in Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Ellen Carolina dos Santos Assef (a1), Alessandra Gotuzo Seabra Capovilla (a1) and Fernando Cesar Capovilla (a2)


Research shows abnormal function of the pre-frontal cortex in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This cortex is involved in the control of executive functions related to planning and execution of goal-oriented strategies, working memory, inhibitions, cognitive flexibility, and selective attention. Selective attention involves focus on the target stimulus, ignoring competing distractions. The Stroop Test (Stroop, 1935) is usually used to evaluate selective attention. This study investigated whether children with ADHD could exhibit modified performance in the Stroop Test. Using a computerized version of this test (Capovilla, Montiel, Macedo, & Charin, 2005), the study compared the reaction times (RTs) of 62 Brazilian children, between 8 and 12 years of age, 31 of whom were diagnosed with ADHD and sent to psychiatric clinics, and 31 without ADHD studying in regular schools. All children with ADHD satisfied the criteria of the DSM-IV-TR and were evaluated with the Conners Abbreviated Questionnaire (Goyette, Conners, & Ulrich, 1978), completed by parents and teachers. The results revealed that children with ADHD exhibit greater interference in RT than children without ADHD. This corroborated the hypothesis that children with ADHD exhibit a deficit in selective attention, consisting in augmented RTs, as measured by the Computerized Stroop Test.

La investigación ha mostrado la función anormal del córtex prefrontal en el trastorno de déficit de atención con hiperactividad (TDAH). Este córtex está implicado en el control de las funciones ejecutivas relacionadas con la planificación y ejecución de estrategias orientadas a objetivos, la memoria de trabajo, las inhibiciones, la flexibilidad cognitiva y la atención selectiva. La atención selectiva implica centrarse en el estímulo diana, ignorando las distracciones que compiten para la atención. Normalmente se emplea la prueba Stroop (Stroop, 1935) para evaluar la atención selectiva. En este estudio se investigó si le ejecución en la prueba Stroop de niños con TDAH podría sufrir modificaciones. Empleando una versión informatizada de esta prueba (Capovilla, Montiel, Macedo y Charin, 2005), el estudio comparó los tiempos de reacción (TR) de 62 niños brasileños, con edades entre los 8 y los 12 años, de los cuales 31 fueron diagnosticados de TDAH y estaban en clínicas psiquiátricas, y 31 sin TDAH que estudiaban en colegios normales. Todos los niños con TDAH cumplían los criterios del DSM-IV-TR y fueron evaluados con el Cuestionario Abreviado de Conners (Goyette, Conners y Ulrich, 1978), cumplimentado por padres y profesores. Los resultados revelaron que los niños con TDAH mostraron más interferencia en TR que los niños sin TDAH. Esto corroboró la hipótesis de que los niños con TDAH exhiben un déficit en la atención selectiva, que consiste en TR aumentados, tal y como se miden con la Prueba Stroop Informatizada.


Corresponding author

Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Alessandra Gotuzo Seabra Capovilla, Post-Graduate Program Strict Sense in Psychology of the University of Sao Francisco, Av. Alexandre Rodrigues Barbosa, 45 - Centro - Itatiba – SP, CEP 13251-900 (Brazil). Phone: 55 11 4534-8040. Fax: 55 11 4524-1933. E-mail:,


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