Professor Richard Cheston
University of West of England
Mnemic neglect in people affected with Mild Alzheimer's disease: replicating and extending findings from Experimental Social Psychology
We will carry out four studies to examine the way in which psychological factors influence the ability of a person affected by dementia to remember information about their illness. In the first study we will replicate research by one of the applicants into the phenomenon of mnemic neglect but using people affected by dementia. Participants will be provided with descriptions about personality traits and asked to imagine that these either relate to themselves or to someone called Chris. In the second study we will adapt the word list memory test widely used within neuro-psychological assessments, but use words that relate either to Alzheimers disease, or to two control conditions (neutral words and words related to another illness). In the third study participants will be asked to remember descriptions taken from Alzheimer Society information, some of which present positive or negative descriptions of dementia, or which relate to central or peripheral traits. In the last study we will repeat this process, but using the Chris procedure in study one. If mnemic neglect also occurs with people with Alzheimers disease, then less threatening information (i.e. positive, peripheral or other referent) will be better recalled. The significance of this research is that social psychological research shows that it is possible to improve recall by altering the way in which information is presented. This research, therefore, may well provide a basis for developing improved ways of talking to people with dementia about their illness.