Remembering the past to imagine the future: the prospective brain

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2007 Sep;8(9):657-61. doi: 10.1038/nrn2213.


A rapidly growing number of recent studies show that imagining the future depends on much of the same neural machinery that is needed for remembering the past. These findings have led to the concept of the prospective brain; an idea that a crucial function of the brain is to use stored information to imagine, simulate and predict possible future events. We suggest that processes such as memory can be productively re-conceptualized in light of this idea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Thinking / physiology*