Valence-based Word-Face Stroop task reveals differential emotional interference in patients with major depression

Basgoze Z., Gonul A. S. , BASKAK B., GÖKÇAY D.

PSYCHIATRY RESEARCH, vol.229, no.3, pp.960-967, 2015 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 229 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.05.099
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.960-967
  • Keywords: Major depressive disorder, Emotional interference, Word-Face Stroop, Negative bias, Analytical rumination, FACIAL EXPRESSIONS, CONFLICT, MOOD, INFORMATION, ATTENTION, PERFORMANCE, MODEL


Word-Face Stroop task creates emotional conflict between affective words and affective faces. In this task, healthy participants consistently slow down while responding to incongruent cases. Such interference related slowdown is associated with recruitment of inhibitory processes to eliminate task-irrelevant information. We created a valence-based Word-Face Stroop task, in which participants were asked to indicate whether the words in the foreground are positive, negative or neutral. Healthy participants were faster and more accurate than un-medicated patients with major depression disorder (MDD). In addition, a significant congruence by group interaction is observed: healthy participants slowed down for incongruent cases, but MDD patients did not. Furthermore, for the negative words, healthy individuals made more errors while responding to incongruent cases but MDD patients made the lowest number of errors for this category. The emotional percepts of the patients were intact, because correct response rates in word valence judgments for positive/negative words, and reaction times for happy/sad faces had similar patterns with those of controls. These findings are supported by the analytical rumination interpretation of depression: patients lose speed/accuracy in laboratory tasks due to processing load spent during continuous rumination. However, for tasks in line with their preoccupation, continual practice makes the patients more vigilant and adept. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.