Coloured Words

A large red and blue cube frame that has blue and orange banners running from top to bottom with different information on each. In front on the grey carpet is a long checkerplate steel box.

The Stroop Test demonstrates how your brain interprets language and vision.

How it works

Read the ink colour out loud, while being confused by the colours being named by the words in this Stroop test.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

  • Which is easiest to do?
  • Can you read them quickly without making a mistake?


Your brain receives information about the colour that the word describes first (the ‘colour word’) and the colour of the ink used to print the word second. Each type of information travels along a different path through the brain and arrives at different times.

So the ‘colour word’ information is processed first, before the ink colour information. This makes it harder to say the ink colour than the ‘colour word’ and is called the Stroop Effect.

Finding the science in your world

Your brain must receive, process and respond to thousands of stimulus signals every second. As you mature, your brain develops an ability to pay attention to some signals, ignore others and combine signals such as hearing and speaking, as a suite of language processing skills. Scientists use visual illusions and language illusions such as the Stroop Effect, to study how the human brain processes information.