Courtney Ray


Extensive research has been conducted linking stress to increased allostatic load and degradation of various organs over time. In the brain, the hippocampus appears to be particularly vulnerable. This deterioration is manifest clinically by impaired performance on tasks of declarative memory. The Social Readjustment Ratings Scale (SRRS) is an inventory of high intensity psychosocial stressors. This instrument has previously been used to help calculate risk of disease. Using measurements of stressful life events, it may be possible to similarly predict risk of cognitive impairment. To test this, the current study explored the cumulative effect of discreet psychosocial stressors that have occurred within the past year and their effect on changes in cognitive functioning as measured by individuals’ performance on hippocampus-dependent tasks. In addition to psychosocial stress, the study examined the effects of variables thought to positively impact cognition and potentially stave off decline. As the elderly population grows, there is an increased interest in slowing cognitive decline and promoting healthy aging. Studies have indicated that an increase in activities that promote cognitive reserve can be beneficial in attenuating cognitive decline in the face of various injuries. Various studies have also demonstrated that sex is correlated with between group differences in cognitive functioning. This study explored the potential effects of both cognitive reserve and sex differences on changes in performance on declarative memory tasks.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Arechiga, Adam L.

Second Advisor

Dulcich, Melissa S.

Third Advisor

Kelly, Natalie

Fourth Advisor

Lee, Grace

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Cognition -- In old age; Cognition disorders -- In old age; Stress; Aging -- Physiology; Cognition -- Physiology

Subject - Local

Cognitive Decline; Declarative Memory; Psychosocial Stressors; Social Readjustment Ratings Scale (SRRS); Cognitive Functioning; Elderly



Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website


Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives