Dame Judi Dench said playing novelist Iris Murdoch in a 2001 biopic was one of the most challenging roles of her career, as she picked up an award for her contribution to film.
The Oscar-winning actress received a doctorate from Stirling University, where a dementia studies centre is named after Murdoch - who developed the condition towards the end of her life.
Dame Judi opened the research and training unit in 2003 and has now returned to pick up an honour for her stage, television and film work.
She said: "Dementia is an issue close to my heart. Playing Iris Murdoch in Iris was one of my most challenging roles, but also one of the most important as it broadened my understanding of the issues facing those who develop dementia.
"When I formally opened the Iris Murdoch Building over a decade ago, I was delighted to see a public building which could provide an exemplar for dementia-friendly design. Coming back to the university, it is so encouraging to see the myriad of ways the Dementia Services Development Centre and its staff have informed practice and made a positive difference to people's lives.
"I would like to thank the university and the centre for honouring me with this degree and I hope my presence here today will further highlight the world-class research they carry out."
Dame Judi won a Bafta in 2002 for her portrayal of Murdoch, the Oxford-educated writer of novels such as The Black Prince and The Sea, The Sea, which took the Booker Prize in 1978.
The 78-year-old has enjoyed a career spanning seven decades which most recently saw her reprise her role as M in the latest James Bond film, Skyfall.
Theatre-goers have watched her play a series of Shakespeare characters from Ophelia to Lady Macbeth, and television viewers know Dame Judi best for the popular series As Time Goes By.
Professor June Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre, said: "It's a great honour for the centre to be associated with Dame Judi. She's a wonderful role model for our students - working as hard as ever in a job she loves, long after other people have retired. She hates the idea of older people being left with nothing to keep their minds busy and she is determined not to be made to put her feet up."