A neuroanatomical account of mental time travelling in schizophrenia: A meta-analysis of functional and structural neuroimaging data

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017 Sep:80:211-222. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.05.027. Epub 2017 May 30.


Mental time travel (MTT) abilities could be particularly compromised in schizophrenic patients due to a deficit of the cognitive processes at the basis of remembering the past and imaging the future: constructive processes, theory of mind and self-awareness. Accordingly, we assumed that the neural circuits typically associated with MTT in healthy people might be partially compromised in chronic schizophrenic patients. To quantitatively and anatomically test our hypothesis, we run two meta-analyses using the Activation Likelihood Estimate method: (i) a neurofunctional meta-analysis on MTT in healthy subjects, (ii) a morphometrical meta-analysis on chronic schizophrenia. The results of the two meta-analyses were overlapped in order to identify the candidate regions involved in MTT deficit in schizophrenia. A significant overlap was found in the vmPFC, in the precuneus, in the hippocampus and in the insular cortex. We assume that MTT deficits in schizophrenic patients may be the results of a complex dysfunctional interaction between the system underlying the creation of self-representation, the constructive system and the salience attribution network.

Keywords: Autobiographical memory; Frontal lobes; Future thinking; Medial temporal lobes; Meta-analysis; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Neuroimaging
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*