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Michael Scullin, Ph.D. - Baylor University . Waco, TX, US

Michael Scullin, Ph.D. Michael Scullin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience | Baylor University


Professor Scullin’s research investigates how sleep physiology impacts memory, education, health, and aging.






Michael Scullin, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory at Baylor University loading image Michael Scullin, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory at Baylor University loading image sleep expert loading image expert on sleep loading image loading image




Dr. Scullin completed his doctorate in the Behavior, Brain, and Cognition program at Washington University in St. Louis and then a post-doctoral fellowship in the Neurology and Sleep Medicine program at Emory University School of Medicine. He is involved in service committees for the Sleep Research Society and the American Psychological Association and he co-founded the APA journal Translational Issues in Psychological Science.

Dr. Scullin’s research investigates how sleep physiology impacts memory, education, health, and aging. He is further interested in how we use memory to fulfill our daily intentions (a special kind of memory called “prospective" memory) as well as how lifestyle choices including exercise, diet, and medication adherence affect cognitive and neural functioning.

Industry Expertise (3)



Writing and Editing

Areas of Expertise (8)


Sleep Physiology

Cognitive Neuroscience

Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition


Sleep's Effect on Aging

Sleep's Effect on Memory

Sleep's Effect on Health

Accomplishments (5)

Rising Star Award, Association for Psychological Science


Brenda A. Milner Award, American Psychological Association


Early Career Development Award, Sleep Research Society Foundation


Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, National Institute on Aging


APA/Psi Chi Edwin B. Newman Graduate Research Award (professional)

Awards for graduate research, applying psychology to education and training. Professor Scullin received this award in 2011.

Education (2)

Washington University, St. Louis: Ph.D. 2011

Furman University: B.S. 2007

Media Appearances (7)

How writing your to-do lists can help you sleep

USA TODAY  online


Thinking of the long lists of tasks we have on our plates might leave most of us anxious, but new Baylor research suggests writing them down could help us get some sleep. Those in the research study who wrote down their to-do lists for the next day were able to fall asleep faster. "Most people just cycle through their to-do lists in their heads, and so we wanted to explore whether the act of writing them down could counteract nighttime difficulties with falling asleep." said Michael K. Scullin, Ph.D., director of Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory. Findings were published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Experimental Psychology.

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Key to Sleeping? Writing a To-Do List

Good Morning America  tv


A surprising and easy solution for those who have trouble falling asleep may be to write a to-do list of what they need to do the next day or new few days, according to a Baylor study led by Michael K. Scullin, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory, and conducted in the lab on a week night. Half the group wrote a to-do list before bedtime; the other half chronicled completed tasks. The “to-do” group fell asleep an average of nine minutes sooner than the other group, suggesting making a list helps clear the head and make sleep easier.

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Students to participate in neuroscience sleeping lab

The Barylor Lariat  


Dr. Michael K. Scullin, director of the sleep lab, has been conducting research on the effects of sleep on cognition, memory and learning in young adults.

Scullin’s lab is a 1,650-square-foot lab consisting of three bedrooms equipped with sleep recording technology. There are monitoring screens and equipment to measure the brain’s electrical activities.

“We are getting individuals of all different ages, from college students to people from the community in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and we’re trying to identify changes in physiology, sleep fragmentation, slow waves, and see which of these changes is most important in memory and cognition,” Scullin said.

Participants in Scullin’s research spend three nights in the observation laboratory. To increase participation, Scullin makes the experience as pleasant as possible.

“One of our goals is to get people as relaxed as possible when they come here. So we have things like spa music and we dim the lights. We tell them what we’re going to do and they can tell us if anything is uncomfortable,” Scullin said.

Baylor undergraduate research technicians Madison Krueger and Claudina Tami demonstrated what participants would go through on dissertation-level graduate student Michelle Dasse ...

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New Baylor lab lets subjects sleep for science

Waco Tribune  


Michael Scullin, director of the new lab, is studying how sleep quality changes as people age, and that work requires subjects willing to spend three nights each in one of the lab’s bedrooms.

They sleep attached to electrodes that monitor their brain activity and eye and face movement, offering insight into the quality of their sleep.

Subjects earn $50 for each night, but the opportunity to contribute to science has been the study’s best draw for participants, Scullin said ...

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Invest in sleep at a young age to reap cognitive rewards later in life

Sleep Review - The Journal for Sleep Specialists  


The research raises an “alluring question,” says Michael K. Scullin, PhD, director of Baylor’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory, who examined 50 years of sleep research for an article in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

“If sleep benefits memory and thinking in young adults but is changed in quantity and quality with age, then the question is whether improving sleep might delay—or reverse—age-related changes in memory and thinking,” says Scullin, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, in a release.

“It’s the difference between investing up front rather than trying to compensate later,” he said. “We came across studies that showed that sleeping well in middle age predicted better mental functioning 28 years later” ...

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Investing in sleep while you're young helps cognition in old age

Big Think Blog  


Erin Blakemore from the Smithsonian wrote on the study that was led by Michael K. Scullin, a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University, who poured over 50 years of sleep-related research with the help of a team of scientists. The research was published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, which includes data from 200 separate studies that date as far back as 1967.

This data provided Scullin and his team evidence that showed there's a close link to cognition and the amount of sleep older participants got in their youth and middling years ...

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Good sleep in youth and middle age linked to better memory in old age

Psych Central  


Michael K. Scullin, Ph.D., director of Baylor University’s Sleep Neuroscience and Cognition Laboratory, reviewed 50 years of sleep research and discovered some interesting findings.

“We came across studies that showed that sleeping well in middle age predicted better mental functioning 28 years later.” Therefore, improving sleep early in life might delay, or even reverse, age-related changes in memory and thinking.

“It’s the difference between investing up front rather than trying to compensate later,” said Scullin. The article — “Sleep, Cognition, and Normal Aging: Integrating a Half Century of Multidisciplinary Research,” has been published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Scullin notes that the benefits of a sound night’s sleep for young adults are diverse and unmistakable. One example is that a particular kind of “deep sleep” called “slow-(brain)-wave-sleep” helps memory by taking pieces of a day’s experiences, replaying them and strengthening them for better recollection ...

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Articles (5)

An implementation intention strategy can improve prospective memory in older adults with very mild Alzheimer's disease British Journal of Clinical Psychology


This study tested whether (1) very mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with impaired prospective memory (PM) for tasks that are supported by either spontaneous retrieval (focal PM) or strategic monitoring (non-focal PM) and (2) implementation intention (II) encoding could improve PM performance in very mild AD.

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Sleep, Cognition, and Normal Aging Integrating a Half Century of Multidisciplinary Research Perspectives on Psychological Sciences


Sleep is implicated in cognitive functioning in young adults. With increasing age, there are substantial changes to sleep quantity and quality, including changes to slow-wave sleep, spindle density, and sleep continuity/fragmentation. A provocative question for the field of cognitive aging is whether such changes in sleep physiology affect cognition (e.g., memory consolidation). We review nearly a half century of research across seven diverse correlational and experimental domains that historically have had little crosstalk. Broadly speaking, sleep and cognitive functions are often related in advancing age, though the prevalence of null effects in healthy older adults (including correlations in the unexpected, negative direction) indicates that age may be an effect modifier of these associations. We interpret the literature as suggesting that maintaining good sleep quality, at least in young adulthood and middle age, promotes better cognitive functioning and serves to protect against age-related cognitive declines.

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Cognitive correlates of hallucinations and delusions in Parkinson's disease Journal of Neurological Sciences


Hallucinations and delusions that complicate Parkinson's disease (PD) could lead to nursing home placement and are linked to increased mortality. Cognitive impairments are typically associated with the presence of hallucinations but there are no data regarding whether such a relationship exists with delusions.

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Sleep, memory, and aging: The link between slow-wave sleep and episodic memory changes from younger to older adults Psychological Aging


In younger adults, recently learned episodic memories are reactivated and consolidated during slow-wave sleep (SWS). Interestingly, SWS declines across the lifespan but little research has examined whether sleep-dependent memory consolidation occurs in older adults. In the present study, younger adults and healthy older adults encoded word pairs in the morning or evening and then returned following a sleep or no-sleep interval. Sleep stage scoring was obtained using a home sleep-stage monitoring system. In the younger adult group, there was a positive correlation between word retention and amount of SWS. In contrast, the older adults demonstrated no significant positive correlations, but one significant negative correlation, between memory and SWS. These findings suggest that the link between episodic memory and SWS that is typically observed in younger adults may be weakened or otherwise changed in the healthy elderly.

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The Dynamic Multiprocess Framework: Evidence from prospective memory with contextual variability Cognitive Psychology


The ability to remember to execute delayed intentions is referred to as prospective memory. Previous theoretical and empirical work has focused on isolating whether a particular prospective memory task is supported either by effortful monitoring processes or by cue-driven spontaneous processes. In the present work, we advance the Dynamic Multiprocess Framework, which contends that both monitoring and spontaneous retrieval may be utilized dynamically to support prospective remembering. To capture the dynamic interplay between monitoring and spontaneous retrieval, we had participants perform many ongoing tasks and told them that their prospective memory cue may occur in any context. Following either a 20-min or a 12-h retention interval, the prospective memory cues were presented infrequently across three separate ongoing tasks. The monitoring patterns (measured as ongoing task cost relative to a between-subjects control condition) were consistent and robust across the three contexts. There was no evidence for monitoring prior to the initial prospective memory cue; however, individuals who successfully spontaneously retrieved the prospective memory intention, thereby realizing that prospective memory cues could be expected within that context, subsequently monitored. These data support the Dynamic Multiprocess Framework, which contends that individuals will engage monitoring when prospective memory cues are expected, disengage monitoring when cues are not expected, and that when monitoring is disengaged, a probabilistic spontaneous retrieval mechanism can support prospective remembering.

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