Daily stressors and memory failures in a naturalistic setting: Findings from the normative aging study
AuthorNeupert, Shevaun D.
AdvisorAlmeida, David M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe role of stress in memory functioning has typically been examined in the laboratory with biological indicators of stress (i.e., stress hormones) and cognitive tests. These studies have generally found a negative association between stress and cognitive performance; that is, people who have higher levels of stress hormones tend to have poorer cognitive performance. The present investigation sought to test this relationship in a naturalistic setting by examining daily stressors and memory failures via a daily diary paradigm. Further, age differences in reactivity (the likelihood of reporting a memory failure when a stressor is experienced) were examined. The primary source of data was the most recent wave of the Normative Aging Study (NAS), a longitudinal study that began in 1961 to examine normal aging processes. One hundred twenty-one adults (69 men, 52 women, age range 44-89) participated in the present study and answered questions regarding their daily stressors and memory failures for eight consecutive evenings. Results from Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) analyses indicated that on days when people experience stressors, they were more likely to also report memory failures compared to stressor-free days. Although age differences in reactivity were not apparent when examining the total frequency of stressors and memory failures, some age differences emerged when looking more specifically at stressor and memory failure type. This study did not directly test the underlying physiological processes of stressors and memory failures, but the results found in a naturalistic setting lend ecological validity to findings that have been previously restricted to the laboratory. Directions for future research (e.g., combining laboratory and naturalistic measures, sampling a wider age range, implementing other sampling techniques, etc.) are discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Family and Consumer Sciences