Mental time travel (MTT), the ability to travel mentally back and forward in time in order to reexperience past events and preexperience future events, is crucial in human cognition. As we move along life, MTT may be changed accordingly. However, the relation between re- and preexperiencing along the lifespan is still not clear. Here, young and older adults underwent a psychophysical paradigm assessing two different components of MTT: self-projection, which is the ability to project the self towards a past or a future location of the mental time line, and self-reference, which is the ability to determine whether events are located in the past or future in reference to that given self-location. Aged individuals performed worse in both self-projection to the future and self-reference to future events compared to young individuals. In addition, aging decreased older adults' preference for personal compared to nonpersonal events. These results demonstrate the impact of MTT and self-processing on subjective time processing in healthy aging. Changes in memory functions in aged people may therefore be related not only to memory per se, but also to the relations of memory and self.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology