Article Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed

How Sleep, Mood, and Age Impact Working Memory


May. 13, 2019 Sleep Review Magazine

A team of psychologists has found strong associations between working memory—a fundamental building block of a functioning mind—and three health-related factors: sleep, age, and depressed mood. The team also reports that each of these factors is associated with different aspects of working memory.

Working memory is the part of short-term memory that temporarily stores and manages information required for cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension. Working memory is critically involved in many higher cognitive functions, including intelligence, creative problem-solving, language, and action-planning. It plays a major role in how we process, use, and remember information.

The researchers, led by Weiwei Zhang, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, found that age is negatively related to the “qualitative” aspect of working memory—that is, how strong or how accurate the memory is. In other words, the older the person, the weaker and less precise the person’s memory. In contrast, poor sleep quality and depressed mood are linked to a reduced likelihood of remembering a previously experienced event—the “quantitative” aspect of working memory.

“Other researchers have already linked each of these factors separately to overall working memory function, but our work looked at how these factors are associated with memory quality and quantity,” Zhang says in a release. “All three factors are interrelated. For example, seniors are more likely to experience negative mood than younger adults. Poor sleep quality is also often associated with depressed mood. The piecemeal approach used in previous investigations on these relationships—examining the relationship between one of these health-related factors and working memory—could open up the possibility that an observed effect may be influenced by other factors.”

The researchers are the first to statistically isolate the effects of the three factors on working memory quantity and quality. Although all three factors contribute to a common complaint about foggy memory, they seem to behave in different ways and may result from potentially independent mechanisms in the brain. These findings could lead to future interventions and treatments to counteract the negative impacts of these factors on working memory.

Click Read More for the full study.

Read More on Sleep Review Magazine

Gene Upshaw Player Assistance Trust Fund

Apply Today

All Resources

Tell Me More

Coffee and the Health of Your Heart

Up to 25 cups of coffee a day still safe for heart health, study says.

Read More

Energy drinks may have unintended health risks

Energy drinks can give you a short term boost, but come with serious concerns.

Read More

11 foods that lower cholesterol

Foods that make up a low cholesterol diet can help reduce high levels in your body.

Read More

The 7 Secrets of Staying Fit After 40

A 41-year-old expert reveals strategies that even regular guys can use.

Read More

5 factors affecting happiness and wellbeing

The interconnectivity of the mind, the body, your relationships and finances come crashing together.

Read More

Stop "People Pleasing" to Build Better Relationships

People pleasers don’t always please others—and seldom please themselves.

Read More

Is an MBA Worth It? How to Decide

Consider both the short- and long-term payoff before enrolling in an MBA program, experts say.

Read More

More Changes to Debt Collection Could Be on the Way

Know the limits and rules that regulate debt collectors before making any decisions.

Read More