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Science & Technology

Human brains are capable of 'mental time travel'

By T.K. Randall
June 30, 2021 · Comment icon 11 comments

In our mind's eye we can replay past events like a tape recording. Image Credit: Pixabay / geralt
Scientists have been unravelling the brain's peculiar ability to organize memories in chronological order.
When you recall memories of a past experience, you don't usually recollect the entire thing at once but in the order in which those events happened - like playing back a recording of your experiences.

Exactly how this functionality works inside the brain has long remained a bit of a mystery, but now a team of experts headed up by neuroscientist Leila Reddy at the French National Center for Scientific Research has finally made progress in understanding which parts of the brain are responsible.

By monitoring the brains of patients while they recalled past events, the researchers found evidence to "suggest a robust representation of time in the human hippocampus."

"[This reveals] a representation of an internal or inherent flow of time, that was not driven by something going on in the external world," Reddy told Vice in an email.
By studying these 'time cells' within the hippocampus, scientists can not only learn more about how we recollect past events, but also make progress in tackling health conditions that impact memory.

"The hippocampus is important for judging the temporal order of events (among other things), and damage to the hippocampus can result in an impairment of memory for temporal order (for example remembering the order of a list of items)," said Reddy.

"It's therefore important to understand how temporal information is represented in the brain, so as to be able to design interventions or treatments to reduce these deficits in memory."

"Understanding the mechanisms for encoding time and memory will be an important area of research."

Source: New York Post | Comments (11)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by Seti42 3 years ago
'Mental Time Travel'. AKA memory. We can also make things up. It's called 'Imagination'.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Orphalesion 3 years ago
We can also physically time travel. But only into the future, and only very slowly.   Can I see Uranus? Eh? Eh? (Harry Potter Reference!)
Comment icon #4 Posted by Tom1200 3 years ago
No - Imagination is now called 'Creative Time Travel'.  Learning your multiplication tables is 'Times Time Travel'.  Archaeology is to be rebranded 'Past Times Time Travel'.  And archaeologists' clocks will be 'Past Times Time Travellers' Time Time Travel Devices'.  You'll get the hang of it, eventually.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Abramelin 3 years ago
"Time" may not be what we think it is. "Time" as we know it is a construct made by our brains.
Comment icon #6 Posted by josellama2000 3 years ago
Are Human brains are capable of 'mental time travel'? Perhaps and that will explain why we see corpses (people) brainlessly walking and taking every day.
Comment icon #7 Posted by josellama2000 3 years ago
it is human minds, no brains.
Comment icon #8 Posted by quiXilver 3 years ago
Agree.  Time is a human creation due to the function of memory and our awareness of change. Everything occurs in the present.  When you remember the past, you do it in the present. When you fantasize about the future, it happens now.   There is the present and our processing of our awareness of change, is what we call memory and the ordering of it, is called time.  It leads to a persistent but illusory projected delusion that we 'travel from the past to the future'.  It's darned persistent.  Kinda like when we assumed the world was the unmoving center of the universe.  It's a persistent... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by razman 3 years ago
I remember once looking out at the sky , and i just had this peculiar feeling briefly that it was always the same eternal moment , even way back to the ancient of days . Hard to explain , like no time had actually passed. Strange it was.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Frank_Hoenedge 3 years ago
Would also be a bad day to be a phrenologist
Comment icon #11 Posted by SHaYap 3 years ago
Was there ever a good day for one?  ~

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