Phylogeny and ontogeny of mental time

Neurosci Res. 2021 Sep:170:13-17. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2020.07.008. Epub 2020 Jul 15.


Humans have mental time in our mind, apart from physical time that is a part of system that governs the physical world, and memory is our key cognitive ability for recognizing the passage of time. Recent studies have suggested that the memory system of several nonhuman animals may have an incidental nature, which is also a feature of episodic memory. In addition, apes, which are phylogenetically close to humans, have an ability to remember a single past event. In the case of humans, preverbal infants under the age of two are able to retain long-term memory of a single event and apply it to predict a future event. Thus, nonhuman animals and preverbal human infants both have their own specific mental time travel abilities, and there is a phylogenetic and ontogenic basis of full-fledged mental time travel that can be found in human adults.

Keywords: Episodic foresight; Episodic memory; Mental time; Mental time travel; Ontogeny; Phylogeny.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mental Recall
  • Phylogeny