Date of Award

May 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Caitlin R Bowman

Committee Members

Karyn M Frick, Deborah E Hannula


affect, category learning, cognitive aging, mood, motivation, state of mind


Category learning plays an important role in day-to-day lives across all ages, allowing us to organize related experiences, develop expectations, and determine how we behave given those expectations. Despite its importance, the current body of literature on category learning in older adults is much smaller than that of other memory domains. Thus, little is known about how well older adults learn new concepts and what factors best promote learning novel categories. One factor that may affect category learning abilities is an individual’s state of mind. A number of studies demonstrate the effects of sleep, stress, affect, and motivation on cognition, especially in older adults. However, the extent to which individual’s state of mind affects category learning remains unclear. In this study, older adults have undergone two category learning sessions across separate days and completed several state of mind questionnaires. I examined if participant’s state of mind predicted the categorization accuracy of older adults on each day. This study may potentially advance our understanding of the factors that influence category learning and establish the extent to which state of mind contributes to older adults’ categorization abilities.

Available for download on Wednesday, June 12, 2024