Cognitive Interference for Trauma Cues in Sexually Abused Adolescent Girls with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


Investigated cognitive processing of fear-relevant information in sexually abused adolescent girls with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) using a modified Stroop procedure (MSP). Participants were 20 sexually abused girls with PTSD, 13 sexually abused girls without PTSD, and 20 nonvictimized girls who served as controls, 11 to 17 years old. Word conditions included abuse-related threat, developmentally relevant (related to the experience of sexual abuse, e.g., trust, secrecy, and intimacy), general threat, positive, and neutral. Girls with PTSD were expected to show cognitive interference for trauma-related words as well as for developmentally relevant words, relative to adolescents without PTSD. Overall color naming was significantly slower in the PTSD group than in the nonabused controls. Contrary to expectation, all participants demonstrated cognitive interference for trauma-related words. Relevant theoretical and methodological issues are highlighted.

Publication Title

Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology