An asymmetry in past and future mental time travel following vmPFC damage

Elisa Ciaramelli, Filomena Anelli, Francesca Frassinetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) in mental time travel toward the past and the future is debated. Here, patients with focal lesions to the vmPFC and brain-damaged and healthy controls mentally projected themselves to a past, present or future moment of subjective time (self-projection) and classified a series of events as past or future relative to the adopted temporal self-location (self-reference). We found that vmPFC patients were selectively impaired in projecting themselves to the future and in recognizing relative-future events. These findings indicate that vmPFC damage hinders the mental processing of and movement toward future events, pointing to a prominent, multifaceted role of vmPFC in future-oriented mental time travel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-325
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 5 2021


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries/psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Middle Aged
  • Prefrontal Cortex/injuries


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