Sleep is known to influence basic tasks concerning working memory, reaction time and executive functioning (Silva, Wang, Ronda, Wyatt, & Duffy, 2010; Nebes, Buysse, Halligan, Houck, & Monk, 2009). However, the amount that sleep influences these functions varies from study to study possibly due to differences in age and task design. Aim 1A of this study is to determine if sleep quality affects working memory. Aim 1B of this study is to determine if age affects sleep quality and working memory in comparison of young and old adult populations. Finally, Aim 2 of this study is to determine if there is a relationship between sleep quality, working memory, and decision making in the younger adults. These aims were researched using a validated and commonly used sleep questionnaire: the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). In addition, the study utilized an n-back test to measure working memory and executive functioning, and an economic decision task to measure decision making accuracy. Results show that sleep quality did not significantly influence accuracy on an n-back test in either age group, but age was significantly correlated with accuracy on an n-back test in the older adults. The study also found a relationship between working memory performance and complex decision making among younger adults, but this relationship was not modulated by sleep quality. Our findings suggest that self-reported sleep quality is not a strong predictor of working memory or complex decision making, particularly in early adulthood. Future research on this topic may benefit from a more objective measure of sleep quality and from larger samples across different phases of the lifespan.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Orlando (Main) Campus
Merz, Melissa G., "The Relationship Between Sleep, Working Memory, and Decision Making in Young and Old Adult Populations" (2017). Honors in the Major Theses. 210.