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Color Confusion

Kim, Scott

doi: 10.1097/01.NNN.0000383090.69885.05
Departments: the Waiting Room: Neurobics

Here is a colorful brain twister called the Stroop effect, invented by John Ridley Stroop in 1935. The color names below are written in a variety of colors. Try reading the list out loud, as fast as you can. It's harder than it looks, because your brain gets confused between reading the word and naming the color, a phenomenon that psychologists call interference.

Now try naming the colors of the words out loud, as fast as you can. Ignore what the words say; only pay attention to the actual colors. Most people find this task harder, because it is difficult to suppress our well-trained impulse to read what the words say—what psychologists call response inhibition. But with practice the task gets easier and easier, demonstrating our brain's incredible ability to rewire itself.


To test your Stroop effect prowess, see if you can answer these two questions.

  1. Find the six words that correctly name the actual color the word is written in.
  2. Find the 12 words that correctly name the color of the following word or preceding word. Note: Consider that the word at the end of one line is followed by the word at the beginning of the next line.

Enjoy the Stroop effect? Play Color Match, a game based on the Stroop effect, on the brain game site

Scott Kim



©2010 American Academy of Neurology