Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology

Specialization

Clinical Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

David Faust

Abstract

The promotion of brain health is often perceived through an illness model, as research tends to focus on risk reduction in regards to neurodegenerative disease. However, research indicates that healthy individuals can potentially improve their cognitive performance through the adoption of health-promoting behaviors such as diet, exercise, and the management of chronic medical conditions (e.g. Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol). It is less clear how well this message has been disseminated to the general public. The current study aims to advance a critical foundation for brain health research by developing a questionnaire to assess public beliefs regarding the impact that diet, exercise, and physical health have on the protection, maintenance, and improvement of cognitive performance in both younger and older adults. After developing initial items based on a review of the current literature, undergraduate students and experts provided quantitative and written feedback which contributed to the development and refinement of the final items. This questionnaire addresses an important gap in the current resources available to researchers, and will allow for the measurement of beliefs regarding lifestyle factors and brain health, which will inform the development of future interventions aimed at behavior change.

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