Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Tracy Alloway

Second Advisor

Dr. Christopher Leone

Rights Statement

Department Chair

Dr. Lori Lange


In the study of gerontology, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) has received much attention as it is the progressive stage before Alzheimer’s disease (AD). According to lifespan studies, people with MCI advance to AD at a much-accelerated pace than people without MCI. In this study, I am investigating whether art activities (coloring versus drawing) has any influence on the elderly’s levels of stress and anxiety. More specifically, current research in art therapy points to a significant reduction in participant’s stress and anxiety levels after being involved in coloring and drawing activities. In addition to mental health, I am also investigating how these art-related tasks of coloring and drawing can induce a positive change in the elderly’s working memory levels. This study seeks to answer the following questions with older adults over the age of 65: To what extent does coloring affect their anxiety and stress levels? To what extent does coloring affect their working memory levels? Are there differential effects between participants with MCI versus non-MCI participants (as measured by the Mini-Mental Status Examination)? Our findings demonstrated that overall, there were no significant changes in their stress and anxiety levels after coloring or drawing. However, analyses revealed a significant increase in working memory trial scores from pretest to posttest for participants with MCI who colored a mandala. This could be because the mandala may have provided a structure and sense of direction that the drawing condition lacked. This finding is especially important as the participants that benefited the most from coloring were participants with MCI.