Emerging research suggests that adults with asthma experience higher rates of cognitive impairment compared to adults without asthma. Higher rates of cognitive impairment observed in adults with asthma may be explained by impairments in neuronal health, including compromised hippocampal neurochemistry. The proposed study investigated associations between hippocampal neurochemistry and cognitive health in asthma and the influence of sleep and physical activity on these associations. A community sample of middle-to-older age adults (ages 40-69) with and without asthma completed self-report and actigraphy-based measures of sleep and physical activity. A cognitive battery was completed in addition to proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy and structural magnetic resonance imaging. Associations between asthma, sleep, physical activity, cognitive function, and hippocampal neurochemistry were examined using multivariate multiple regression implemented within mixed effects models. Contrary to hypotheses, asthma was not significantly related to worse cognitive function. When lifestyle factors were examined, asthma emerged as related to better episodic memory. Evidence that asthma is associated with both greater left hippocampal GABA, glutamate, glutamine, and choline levels and lower right hippocampal NAA, mI, and Cr levels was found. Higher education levels, greater physical activity, younger age and being female were factors related to aspects of better cognitive function and hippocampal neurochemistry. Inconsistent results were found for sleep quality, and components of participants’ sleep quality in addition to nocturnal asthma symptoms influencing sleep provided information on specific aspects of sleep associated with hippocampal neurochemistry and neural health. Results provide areas for further investigation into factors influencing cognition and hippocampal neurochemistry in asthma.

Degree Date

Summer 2023

Document Type


Degree Name





Thomas Ritz



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Tuesday, July 25, 2028