Fellow travellers: Working memory and mental time travel in rodents

Behav Brain Res. 2018 Oct 15;352:2-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.03.026. Epub 2017 Mar 19.


The impairment of mental time travel is a severe cognitive symptom in patients with brain lesions and a number of neuropsychiatric disorders. Whether animals are also able to mentally travel in time both forward and backward is still a matter of debate. In this regard, we have proposed a continuum of mental time travel abilities across different animal species, with humans being the species with the ability to perform most sophisticated forms of mental time travel. In this review and perspective article, we delineate a novel approach to understand the evolution, characteristics and function of human and animal mental time travel. Furthermore, we propose a novel approach to measure mental time travel in rodents in a comprehensive manner using a test battery composed of well-validated and easy applicable tests.

Keywords: Animal model of mental time travel; Episodic memory; Evolution of mental time travel; Prospective memory; Temporal order memory; Translational psychiatry.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Imagination*
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Rodentia
  • Time Perception*