Beatrice Godwin Memorial Lecture - “It ain’t what you do, but the way that you do it”

15 May 2019

“It ain’t what you do, but the way that you do it”: Memory, awareness and threat in dementia will be presented by Professor Richard Cheston.

Richard will discuss how traditional approaches to memory and cognition in psychology emphasise the impact of neurological processes in reducing capacity. The memory of people living with dementia is framed in terms of the deficits affecting both short-term memory and autobiographical memory.

While autobiographical memories may be diminished with reminiscences containing conflated or factually incorrect material, nevertheless these memories are clearly highly valued and important. This may be because recalling the past is an important way of adapting to the present; more specifically, memory acts to enhance self-continuity, restore self-esteem and provide life with meaning and purpose. In this way, the recounting of autobiographical memories functions to protect the self from threat.

This talk will draw on evidence from quantitative, laboratory based research and qualitative analysis of narratives from clinical research to argue that nostalgic autobiographical memories play an important part in protecting people with dementia from the existential distress of living with this condition.

Professor Richard Cheston, University of Bath