Mental Time Travel

The ability to travel mentally through time sets humans apart from many other species, yet little is known about this core cognitive capacity.



A central feature of conscious perception is that one's consciousness wanders from the here-and-now occasionally. From memories of lost loves to assumptions for upcoming holidays, mental time travel (MTT) makes it possible to explore the past and pre-experience the future. It is suspected that MTT, present across cultures and arising early in childhood, plays a key role in human cognition. Simulating potential effects (i.e., prospecting) on the basis of past knowledge (i.e., retrospection) is a strategy that optimizes decision-making and behavioral selection while dealing with complicated and difficult decisions.



However, remarkably little is understood about the real MTT mechanism and how it affects the actions of indiv