The Emotional Word-Emotional Face Stroop task in the ABCD study: Psychometric validation and associations with measures of cognition and psychopathology

Harry R. Smolker, University of Colorado Boulder
Kai Wang, South China Normal University
Monica Luciana, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
James M. Bjork, Virginia Commonwealth University
Raul Gonzalez, Florida International University
Deanna M. Barch, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
Erin C. McGlade, University of Utah
Roselinde H. Kaiser, University of Colorado Boulder
Naomi P. Friedman, University of Colorado Boulder
John K. Hewitt, University of Colorado Boulder
Marie T. Banich, University of Colorado Boulder


Characterizing the interactions among attention, cognitive control, and emotion during adolescence may provide important insights into why this critical developmental period coincides with a dramatic increase in risk for psychopathology. However, it has proven challenging to develop a single neurobehavioral task that simultaneously engages and differentially measures these diverse domains. In the current study, we describe properties of performance on the Emotional Word-Emotional Face Stroop (EWEFS) task in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, a task that allows researchers to concurrently measure processing speed/attentional vigilance (i.e., performance on congruent trials), inhibitory control (i.e., Stroop interference effect), and emotional information processing (i.e., difference in performance on trials with happy as compared to angry distracting faces). We first demonstrate that the task manipulations worked as designed and that Stroop performance is associated with multiple cognitive constructs derived from different measures at a prior time point. We then show that Stroop metrics tapping these three domains are preferentially associated with aspects of externalizing psychopathology and inattention. These results highlight the potential of the EWEFS task to help elucidate the longitudinal dynamics of attention, inhibitory control, and emotion across adolescent development, dynamics which may be altered by level of psychopathology.