Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Mark McDaniel


The present research investigated the relationship between sleep and memory in younger and older adults. Previous research has demonstrated that during the deep sleep stage: i.e., slow wave sleep), recently learned memories are reactivated and consolidated in younger adults. However, little research has examined whether memory consolidation occurs during deep sleep in older adults. Younger adults and older adults encoded word pairs: e.g., channel - result) in the morning or evening and then returned 12 hours or 24 hours later for a final test: three groups: 12-hr wake, 12-hr sleep, 24-hr PM-PM sleep). Sleep stage scoring was obtained by having participants use a home sleep monitoring system: Zeo, Inc.) between experimental sessions. In the younger adult group, memory retention was greater in the 12-hr sleep condition than in the 12-hr wake condition: the 24-hr sleep condition produced results similar to, though nominally greater than, the 12-hr wake group), and these younger adult participants demonstrated a positive correlation between memory retention and amount of deep sleep. In contrast, in the older adult group, no effect of delay condition was observed and deep sleep did not significantly correlate with memory retention. Furthermore, for one measure of post-sleep delay learning, the older adults but not the younger adults demonstrated a significant negative correlation between deep sleep and memory performance. These findings suggest that the relationship between memory and deep sleep that is typically observed in younger adults, is weakened or changed in older adults.


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