Mental Time Travel: Is Experience Everything?

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Talisman, Emad
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According to research on mental time travel, differences between episodic memory and episodic future thought are due to temporal direction (i.e., past vs. future). Recently, it has been suggested that it is familiarity with memories and associated details that may affect such differences. Following the recombination methodology of Addis, Pan, Vu, Laiser, and Schacter (2009), participants (N = 27) were asked to recall episodic memories, and to imagine episodic events in the past, present, or future using memory details ranked for level of familiarity collected prior to the experiment. Data on both self-­‐report (e.g., vividness, effortfulness) and objective (e.g., level of detail, coherence) characteristics of the remembered and imagined events were collected. It was predicted that familiarity with memories and associated details, not temporal direction, would account for the differences between episodic memory and future thought. Results did not support this hypothesis, but demonstrated that the variation between episodic memory and episodic future thought is due to the relationship between remembering and imagination. Suggestions are made to (a) change conceptualization of episodic future thought such that the focus is on the process of imagining and not on mental projection into the future, and (b) replicate the current design with a false memory condition to validate and expand upon the findings.
Memory , Episodic memory , Temporal direction