Concurrent working memory task decreases the Stroop interference effect as indexed by the decreased theta oscillations

Y. Zhao, D. Tang, L. Hu, L. Zhang, G. Hitchman, L. Wang, A. Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Working memory (WM) tasks may increase or decrease the interference effect of concurrently performed cognitive control tasks. However, the neural oscillatory correlates of this modulation effect of WM on the Stroop task are still largely unknown. In the present study, behavioral and electroencephalographic (EEG) data were recorded from 32 healthy participants during their performance of the single Stroop task and the same task with a concurrent WM task. We observed that the Stroop interference effect represented in both response times (RTs) and theta-band event-related spectral perturbation (ERSP) magnitude reduced under the dual-task condition compared with the single-task condition. The reduction of interference in theta-band ERSP was further positively correlated with interference reduction in RTs, and was mainly explained by the source in the left middle frontal gyrus. In conclusion, the present study suggests that the effect of concurrent WM tasks on the reduction of the Stroop interference effect can be indexed by EEG oscillations in theta-band rhythm in the centro-frontal regions and this modulation was mediated by the reduced cognitive control under the concurrent WM task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-106
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2014


  • EEG oscillations
  • Stroop interference effect
  • Theta-band rhythm
  • Working memory load

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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