Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Marie J Hayes

Second Committee Member

Alan Rosenwasser

Third Committee Member

Clifford Singer

Additional Committee Members

Rebecca MacAulay


As individuals age, degradation of many health systems is a commonality (Cauley et al., 2012, McNicoll & Siegel, 2012). The rising demographic of aging individuals in the United States creates concern for conserving quality of life (QoL), importantly, identifying mechanisms which lead to cognitive decline in aging is key to the identification of risk factors and in new strategies to maintain QoL. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a disorder of aging diagnosed by the presence of significant cognitive decline in more than one cognitive domain that is greater than expected for an individual’s age and education level (Petersen et al.,2014; Ju et al., 2014). MCI is a prelude to a more serious cognitive loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias, and together these disorders of late life cognitive decline compose one of the largest disorders of aging. Epidemiological studies show that progression to dementia occurs in about 50% of individuals diagnosed with MCI in just 5 years (Silkis et al., 2005), but identifying patient factors that lead to this progression remains challenging. Importantly, it is well known that sleep quality is a major contributor to overall health, particularly to brain health, associated cognitive abilities and prevalence of sleep disturbance increases with age (3,4). This relationship between increased sleep disturbance associated with pathological cognitive decline may shed light onto the mechanistic function of sleep disturbance in the development of MCI and progression to dementia. The main hypothesis of this study is that sleep disorder will be associated with cognitive impairment and that this relationship will be more common in aging individuals with MCI than those without this diagnosis. Participants (N=20) from 65-85 years were assessed to determine impact of sleep disturbance on cognitive status. MCI diagnosed (n=9) individuals recruited from Acadia Hospital and a community sample of sociodemographically similar, but non-diagnosed group (n=11) were tested for two nights in the home bed with a novel sleep device designed to assess various sleep parameters to identify sleep disturbance. Memory consolidation was probed using a simple procedural memory task (Walker & Stickgold, 2002; 2004), and one-month follow-up assessment conducted to assess various domains of neurocognitive functioning including immediate and delayed recall, psychomotor speed, executive functioning, etc. Results from this study reveal that individuals with MCI show significant deficits in psychomotor processing speed and executive functioning (ppp