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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 1867270, 8 pages
Research Article

Age-Related Effects on Future Mental Time Travel

1Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, 40127 Bologna, Italy
2Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri Hospital IRCCS, 46042 Castel Goffredo, Italy
3Centro Studi e Ricerche in Neuroscienze Cognitive, 47023 Cesena, Italy
4Neuropsychiatry Lab, Faculty of Medicine, Hadassah Hebrew University Medical School, 91200 Jerusalem, Israel
5Department of Neurology, Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center, 91200 Jerusalem, Israel

Received 29 October 2015; Revised 29 February 2016; Accepted 23 March 2016

Academic Editor: Aage R. Møller

Copyright © 2016 Filomena Anelli et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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.