Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan


  • Anna MacKay-BrandtEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1270


A mental operation that proceeds without voluntary control and without requiring capacity or processing resources.

Current Knowledge

Automatic processes are usually found in the context of stimulus information that is well integrated into the individual’s memory through either a classical conditioning, an overlearned behavior (e.g., reading), or an evolutionarily adaptive response (e.g., orienting response). The Stroop effect (Stroop 1935; MacLeod 1992) is a good example of the influence of automaticity on behavior. Reading becomes automatic at a level of proficiency acquired by most school-aged children, such that it is out of an individual’s control notto read a presented word. This involuntary response is captured in the interference it produces when one attempts to ignore a color word and instead name the color of the stimulus. Color naming is slower when the color word and the color of the stimulus are incongruent when compared to the stimulus which is neutral (a...

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References and Readings

  1. MacLeod, C. M. (1992). The Stroop task: The “gold standard” of attentional measures. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 121, 12–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Stroop, J. R. (1935). Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 18, 643–662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric ResearchOrangeburgUSA
  2. 2.Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA