View all news

Bristol professor designs game for Guinness World Record attempt

Professor Bruce Hood

Professor Bruce Hood

Press release issued: 19 October 2012

People up and down the country are attempting to set a Guinness record today [19 October] for the world’s largest memory game as part of the first ever Biology Week. Children and adults will put their memories to the test at 2.30pm in the first mass memory game of its kind, led by the Society of Biology.

Children and adults will put their memories to the test at 2.30pm in the first mass memory game of its kind, led by the Society of Biology.

Over 1,000 people, spread across at least 10 venues, need to take part in order for it to be classed as a world record.

The results will also feed into a wider scientific study looking at ‘false memory’ – when people remember events differently from the way they happened.

The 10 minute test was devised by Professor Bruce Hood, Director of the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre at the University of Bristol, and will enable comparisons to be made between age groups.

He said: “The test is to demonstrate the phenomena of ‘false memories’ where individuals recognise words they think they have heard. This is thought to happen because the list of actual words are all related and so trigger the representation for the false word as if it had been presented. This tells us that memories activate patterns and memories are reconstructed and not like a video or tape recording.

“Interestingly, there is some evidence to indicate that the effect is stronger in older subjects which may be due to the increased associations older people have formed between words in the list. Of course, we may also be getting more forgetful!”

The memory game is the last of a series of events being held to mark Biology Week, which runs from 13 to 19 October, and aims to inspire the nation about the life sciences. Anyone who is interested in how the brain works, from remembering how to make a cup of tea to falling in love with Justin Bieber, can watch the Society of Biology’s Brain Explorers video series.

Dr Mark Downs, Chief Executive of the Society of Biology, said: “This will be the climax of Biology Week, with schools, universities, and learned societies testing their memories simultaneously. We’ve been thrilled with the number of people who are keen to take part and we have high hopes for setting an impressive world record.”

It’s hoped the record attempt will highlight the importance of neuroscience research, especially into diseases such as Alzheimer’s, which affects around 496,000 people in the UK and is projected to increase.

Further information

The Society of Biology is a professional body for bioscientists – providing a single unified voice for biology: advising Government and influencing policy; advancing education and professional development; supporting their members, and engaging and encouraging public interest in the life sciences. For further information, please see

About Biology Week

The first ever Biology Week will take place on 13 -19 October, organised by the Society of Biology. Events around the country will give everyone the chance to learn about biology, the science of the 21st Century. For further information, please see

Edit this page