Remembering possible times: Memory for details of past, future, and counterfactual simulations.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

People’s capacity to mentally simulate future events (episodic future thinking) as well as what could have occurred in the past but did not (episodic counterfactual thinking) critically depends on their capacity to retrieve episodic memories. All 3 mental simulations are likely adaptive in that they involve rehearsing possible scenarios with the goal of improving future performance. However, the extent to which these mental simulations are useful at a later time depends on how well they are later remembered. Unfortunately, little is known about how such simulations are remembered. In the current study, we explored this issue by asking participants to retrieve episodic memories and generate future and counterfactual simulations in response to 4 cues: particular places, people, objects, and times. A day later participants received 3 of the 4 cues and were asked to recall the remaining 1. Our results indicate that people and locations are equally well remembered, regardless of the temporal orientation of the mental simulation. In contrast, objects in future simulations are recalled less frequently than are those in memories. Time was poorly remembered across conditions but especially when remembering a future or a counterfactual simulation. In light of these results, we discuss how temporal information may be incorporated into our hypothetical episodic simulations. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • De Brigard, F; Gessell, B; Yang, BW; Stewart, G; Marsh, EJ

Published Date

  • January 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 7 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 331 - 339

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2326-5531

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2326-5523

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/cns0000220

Citation Source

  • Scopus