How sleep and mood impact working memory

17 May 2019

Working memory is the short-term memory that a person uses on a daily basis while navigating the world, assessing situations, using language, and making decisions.

As a person advances in age, this faculty tends to decline, but there are also other factors — particularly depressed mood and low sleep quality — that can affect it, both in the short and long terms.

A team of researchers from four institutions — the University of California, Riverside, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, in Bethesda, MD — has recently conducted two studies looking at the factors that impact working memory.

Unlike previous research, however, the new study looks at how these factors affect both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of working memory. These terms refer, respectively, to the strength and accuracy of working memory, and how likely it is that memories associated with this faculty are stored in the brain.