Report on Psychology Group Meeting - Meeting, Friday, 21 September 2018

Venue: We met at Squire’s Café Bar in Newthorpe and as the weather outside was very wet the café was busy indoors so we used the function room for the first time and this was much quieter. Unfortunately it was also rather cooler it being a chilly day but we have to take the rough with the smooth when we cannot find an ideal venue.

Attendance: 4 members were present and apologies were received from Dennis and Wendy. Happily I was able to report to members that our fellow member and friend Dennis continues to improve in hospital following his very serious accident. Our best wishes, as ever, go to him and his family and our hopes for his recovery and return to us in the U3A.

Matters discussed: Our intention for this meeting was to complete our look to see what psychological research can tell us about the vital mental function of our memory:

1] Revision: As we did not meet last month we did a quick revision of the salient points we had covered so far. In particular the point was made that exercising memory by remaining as mentally active and using our memories as much as possible after retirement has been shown scientifically to be an important bastion against mental deterioration and even dementia in the elderly.

2] Perception-distraction: We then took part in a video watching activity which tested the effect of focusing attention on one particular activity as a spectator at the expense, as was later shown, of perceiving and recall quite extraordinary events that also took place within our field of vision.
We also considered the effect of planting post event information which can even create actual false memories. All this puts the reliability of eye-witness testimony into question.

3] Types of memory and recall: We looked at short term memory, types of long term memory and at three types of recall. We also considered one or aids to memory such as mnemonics and of course note taking.

4] Coming alive: We then watched an extra-ordinary short video which showed the astonishingly beneficial effects of playing to an elderly man the music that had been very popular to people like him as a young man. The effect on him was all the more extra-ordinary as he had been largely uncommunicative for the previous ten years.

5] Having completed our scheduled work on memory we all agreed to move on to look at infancy and child development as the topic for our next meeting.

Next meeting: This will take place on the 19th October, 2018 from 2 to 4 pm at Squire’s Café Bar in Newthorpe. I look forward to seeing everyone again then.

John Moore – Group leader 22-9-18
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