Course Title: Plenary A - Presidential Address: Memory for News Events: What Will We Remember from 2020? (O'Connor)


Credit Hours: 1


Instructor(s) Margaret O'Connor


Margaret O’Connor, PhD
President of the International Neuropsychological Society
Associate Professor of Neurology
Harvard Medical School

Plenary A - Presidential Address:


Memory for News Events: What Will We Remember from 2020?

Abstract & Learning Objectives:

As part of a cognitive evaluation, clinicians frequently probe recall of news items to determine extent of memory loss. People may be asked about noteworthy sports or political events. Critical factors influencing recall are rarely considered, and it is often not known whether a person has forgotten an event or whether they never learned it to begin with. The evaluation of memory for news events is a complicated enterprise as recall of remote events is influenced by both ‘person-centered’ and ‘item-centered’ factors. Person-centered factors include memory capacity, level of interest in popular culture, pattern of news consumption (including the platform for news delivery and frequency of exposure), and personal biases regarding the importance of specific events. Item-centered factors that influence event retention include the age of the event (i.e., how long ago it was prominent in the news), intensity and frequency of news coverage, event distinctiveness (both in terms of the content of an event and its temporal proximity to events of a similar nature), and emotional salience. In this talk Dr. O’Connor discusses how information for news events is forgotten over time in the context of normal age related forgetting as well as accelerated forgetting due to neurological dysfunction such as epilepsy and neurodegenerative disease. She considers the “staying power” of events that transpired in the year 2020.


Upon conclusion of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Describe models of memory consolidation
  • Analyze issues that affect memory for news events
  • Compare assessment methods used in the evaluation of remote memory

Speaker Biography:

Dr. Margaret O’Connor is President of the International Neuropsychological Society. Dr. O’Connor is Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School which entails clinical, teaching and research activities. Dr. O’Connor has mentored the clinical and research activities of over 100 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. She has authored over 70 papers in peer reviewed journals and 30 book chapters. Her work has involved studies of amnesia and long term forgetting with a focus on understanding neural and physiological substrates of memory. She co-founded DriveWise, a driving assessment program that provided services for over 1000 individuals. In addition to research on the prediction of driving safety she developed educational videos to assist professionals and caregivers in making decisions about driving for people with dementia as well as those with developmental disabilities. Dr. O’Connor has had diplomate status in the field of clinical neuropsychology since 1999 and she is a board examiner for the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology. Dr. O’Connor is actively involved in public education efforts to advance research and clinical support for people with cognitive impairments. She was Co-Chair of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee of the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and remains on the board of this organization. Her committee work also includes the Clinical Advisory Committee of the Asperger/Autism Network.