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Consciousness of subjective time in the brain
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Radiation Sciences, Diagnostic Radiology. Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB).
Rotman Research Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M6A 2E1.
Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901.
Rotman Research Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada M6A 2E1.
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2010 (English)In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 107, no 51, 22356-22359 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

"Mental time travel" refers to conscious experience of remembering the personal past and imagining the personal future. Little is known about its neural correlates. Here, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we explored the hypothesis that mental time travel into "nonpresent" times (past and future) is enabled by a special conscious state (chronesthesia). Well-trained subjects repeatedly imagined taking one and the same short walk in a familiar environment, doing so either in the imagined past, present, or future. In an additional condition, they recollected an instance in which they actually performed the same short walk in the same familiar setting. This design allowed us to measure brain activity correlated with "pure" conscious states of different moments of subjective time. The results showed that the left lateral parietal cortex was differentially activated by nonpresent subjective times compared with the present (past and future > present). A similar pattern was observed in the left frontal cortex, cerebellum, and thalamus. There was no evidence that the hippocampal region is involved in subjective time travel. These findings provide support for theoretical ideas concerning chronesthesia and mental time travel.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 107, no 51, 22356-22359 p.
Keyword [en]
episodic memory, autonoetic consciousness, imagined time, parietal
National Category
Basic Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-39239DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1016823108ISI: 000285521800076PubMedID: 21135219OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-39239DiVA: diva2:389229
Available from: 2011-01-19 Created: 2011-01-19 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved

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