Undergraduate Honors Thesis


The Effect of Sleep Duration on Emotional N-back Performance in Children Public Deposited

Alternative Title
  • Adolescence is a period of time where individuals experience biological and psychological changes, and sleep is a physiological process that provides support for some of these changes. Prior research has shown that adolescents sleep less than the CDC recommended average, and that the lack of sleep has a negative impact on different cognitive domains such as executive functioning, sustained attention and long term memory (Lowe et al., 2017). However, there is little information whether these effects are present in a younger age group, and there are a few large observational studies that take actigraphy data to study this relationship. We used baseline and year-2 data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study to investigate the relationship between sleep duration measured via actigraphy and performance in the emotional 2-back task among 5,897 participants. Results of a linear mixed regression model showed that there was a very small but significant relationship  between sleep duration and rate of correct responses (p=0.007). For each additional hour slept, 2-back proportion correct increased by 0.007. Because we found a significant relationship, we utilized the co-twin control method to control for unmeasured confounds within families that could contribute to sleep duration.  There was no significant relationship between twin differences in sleep duration and 2-back in 244 twin pairs and no significant interaction of zygosity with that relationship. These results indicated that there is a very small relationship between sleep duration and 2-back accuracy, but the data are not consistent with a causal or genetic relationship. We think this is because of a small sample size for the twin analysis which resulted in low power to detect the small relationship we saw in the full sample. The small but significant relationship between sleep and 2-back performance is important because it suggests  that we need to do more research to further investigate how and why a lack of sleep is associated with different cognitive abilities in contexts such as school and extracurricular activities.

Date Awarded
  • 2022-04-04
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2022-04-20
Resource Type
Rights Statement
  • (Thummalapenta, 2022)


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