Episodic simulation of future events is impaired in patients with major depressive disorder

Psychiatry Res. 2011 May 30;187(3):465-7. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.02.002. Epub 2011 Mar 4.


We examined future episodic simulation in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) using a method that distinguishes between episodic and non-episodic details of events. Patients were impaired at generating specific episodic details concerning future events; non-episodic details were not affected. In addition, all participants generated more episodic details for positive than for negative stimulus words. These results suggest a deficit in autonoetic awareness among patients with MDD. Difficulties imagining future events may impact upon the success of therapeutic interventions aimed at altering biases in the prediction of positive and negative future happenings.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales