Mental Flexibility: Try This Test!

Last Saturday, I went to a conference on menopause and women in midlife sponsored by Duke University. At a booth that focused on the aging brain, I took this test.

You try it! Say the name of the color you see NOT the word. Say the colors as fast as you possibly can.


How did you do?

The gentleman manning the booth said I did well, but I didn’t really hit my stride until the last two lines or so. The test is used clinically for lots of purposes. In this case, it was measuring the flexibility of my aging mind.

Ha! I’m working on flexibility. I agreed to a sponge holder in our sink. I’m willing to try a fancy concealer my daughter Laura recommends. And I allow my grandson Maze boss me to the moon and back.

Here’s another version of the test:

Second Stroop

I could do this for a long time. It’s way fun.

What I don’t want to do is count backwards by sevens. I find it painful. I’m not a numbers person. My parents had to count backwards by sevens to get into their retirement center. “Piece of cake!” Mom said. I’ve been practicing. With my luck, I’ll get the sevens down, and my future retirement center will switch to sixes or eights.

Back to the Stroop Test. I’m going to bring the paper copy to Family Beach Week. I want to see how my kids do. I already tested Cliff. He sped through the colors. But that’s okay. If he’s more flexible, then I should get to be the boss of our aging years, right?

Here’s the wiki on the Stroop Test.

11 thoughts on “Mental Flexibility: Try This Test!”

  1. What a fun test!! Yes, need to start doing more brain teasers and games. I used to be good at math but I think I have slowed way down and not as quick. Yikes….a test to get in to a retirement center??


  2. I can’t believe they have that counting test to get into a retirement center!! That can be hard enough for those of us who are pretty good in math. What about those with a learning disability in math–I guess they will have to take their testing in to prove they can’t do it without a calculator. That sounds discriminatory to me! But back to the Stroop test. Interesting and good for our aging brains. I definitely need to do more brain teasers, etc. Let’s see–I think I can work brain exercises
    in on Wednesday between meditating and walking on the treadmill! That is if I remember to do it at all.


  3. This is a nightmare to me. Not the Stroop Test – I’m pretty good at that. But, the count backwards by 7’s. I have trouble counting forward by 7’s. Somewhere in around 3rd grade (because of some traumatic events just prior in my life), my memory system was disrupted, and so was my ability to do all things related to arithmetic. I sat at home, away from school for a week or two, unable to focus or concentrate on the flashcards before me. My arithmetic skills were never to be developed. As you can imagine, this would influence things like my quantitative score on standardized tests – something that had real ramifications for me in academic life.

    Luckily my verbal skills still were retained, and developed to such a great enough extent that they compensated for my (very) lesser math skills.

    I have to agree with some of your other readers; not sure what counting backwards by 7 has to do with getting into a senior/retirement center. Good for your Mom, Barbara! She was perceptive enough to beat them at their own game!


    1. Oh, Hi Barbara! I think I misread – thought it was your Mom who practiced the counting backwards by 7! If it’s you – then YOU are the “perceptive” one to beat them at their game! No worries, just start the practicing of sixes and eights next! Good strategy – think I’ll do it too! By the way, I also find counting backwards by sevens “painful.” I didn’t know anyone else had that kind of visceral “brain” experience with math!

      Sorry to have such a serious part of my post about the trauma. But, I thought it might help other women know that there are things that can impair their ability cognitively in their lives besides just genes and inherited intelligence! I went through a good portion of my life wondering why I wasn’t smart in math; it seriously made me question my intelligence overall at times!


  4. Well, I guess the Stroop Test really has to do with “directed attention,” really.

    Of course, there is great “interference” at first because the word and the color don’t correspond. This is hard, until you know what is happening. Then, you simply address your attention to what your attention is supposed to be addressed to – in this case, naming the colors! Actually, Barbara, you said you didn’t hit your stride until the last couple of line entries – this is not a problem – but, rather, a testimony to the fact that you “learned” the rules of this game!

    I am amazed that you have not had even more people respond to this post! Hopefully, they weren’t put off by their first tries.


Comment on this post

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s