Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Clancy Dollinger, Stephanie


The present study examined the neuropsychological relevance of poor sleep in a sample of community dwelling healthy older adults and a clinical sample of patients with untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) between 40 and 90 years of age. The cognitive performance of 67 patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was compared to those of 46 controls screened for OSA using a portable device called ApneaLinkTM. The current study identified common neuropsychological variables associated with poor sleep quality in general (i.e., as a result of daytime sleepiness) and neuropsychological variables unique to only OSA patients (i.e., manifesting oxygen desaturation at night in addition to daytime sleepiness). Results indicated executive functions were related to hypoxemia and sustained attention was related to sleep fragmentation in the current study. A medical sequelae model and a neuropsychological sequelae model were tested. The neuropsychological sequelae model predicted whether one was a control or an OSA patient 70% accurately based on the predictors (scores on Wisconsin Card Sorting Test perseverance error, vigilance task, WAIS III forward digit span, WAIS III Block Design, phonemic and semantic fluency, and WAIS III backward digit span). The medical sequelae model predicted OSA status 89% accurately based on the predictors (BMI, depression, subjective sleep quality, age, hypertension, diabetes, total mood disturbance, gender, and general health). The current study provides further justification for OSA screening in the general population during middle age and late adulthood especially in those most at risk (i.e., overweight, male, hypertensive, and poor subjective sleep quality).




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