Jaclyn Reckow

Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Thomas Petros

Second Advisor

F. Richard Ferraro


The present study examined how sleep, nutritional intake, and time of day moderate age-related cognitive changes. Research indicates there are cognitive changes associated with healthy aging. Many studies comparing young and older adults have tested participants at the same time of day. More recently, research has revealed certain cognitive tasks produce a synchrony effect, in which participants perform better during their preferred time of day. Older adults tend to prefer morning activities while younger adults prefer afternoon or evening. Forty-eight young adults, ages 18-35 (M = 20.7) and 25 older adults, ages 60-84 (M= 71.4) completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the Block 2005 Brief Food Questionnaire, the Repeatable Battery for Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS), and prose passage recall. Synchrony effects were supported for RBANS List Recognition, Figure Copy, and Figure Recall. No synchrony effect was observed for prose recall. Additionally, sleep indices and nutritional intake did not significantly account for age-related differences in cognitive performance.