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Mental time travel in dysphoria: Differences in the content and subjective experience of past and future episodes

Anderson, Rachel J.; Evans, Gemma L.


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Dr Rachel Anderson
Reader/Programme Director Psychology PG Research (PhD, MSc by Research, MRes)

Gemma L. Evans


Previous research has shown that depressed individuals demonstrate a number of biases in their ability to retrieve past events and simulate future events. The current study investigated the content and phenomenological experience of past and future events in dysphoric and non-dysphoric individuals. Results indicated that dysphoric, compared with non-dysphoric, individuals reported fewer positive events across both temporal directions. Furthermore, phenomenological characteristics ratings suggested that dysphoric individuals saw future, but not past, events as less vivid, coherent, sensorially detailed, bodily experienced, emotionally intense and important with respect to their life story and identity. These findings are discussed with reference to theories regarding the functions of ‘mental time travel’, in particular how the muted subjective experience of future episodes in depression may impair future planning, problem-solving and self regulation.


Anderson, R. J., & Evans, G. L. (2015). Mental time travel in dysphoria: Differences in the content and subjective experience of past and future episodes. Consciousness and cognition, 37, 237-248.

Acceptance Date May 16, 2014
Online Publication Date Jul 25, 2014
Publication Date Dec 1, 2015
Deposit Date Jul 29, 2015
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Consciousness and cognition
Print ISSN 1053-8100
Electronic ISSN 1053-8100
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37
Pages 237-248
Keywords Depression; Mental time travel; Episodic thinking; Autobiographical memory; Phenomenology
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Additional Information Author's accepted manuscript of article published in: Consciousness and cognition, 2015, v.37.


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