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Remembering the past to imagine the future: the prospective brain

Nature Reviews Neuroscience volume 8, pages 657661 (2007) | Download Citation

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Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

The preparation of this paper was supported by grants from the US National Institutes of Aging, the National Institute of Mental Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. We thank A. Wong for invaluable aid with preparation of the manuscript.

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Affiliations

  1. Daniel L. Schacter, Donna Rose Addis and Randy L. Buckner are at the Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA; and the Athinoula A Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, 149 Thirteenth Street, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA.

    • Daniel L. Schacter
    • , Donna Rose Addis
    •  & Randy L. Buckner
  2. Randy L. Buckner is also at the Center for Brain Science, Harvard University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Fairchild Building, 7 Divinity Ave, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.

    • Randy L. Buckner

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Daniel L. Schacter.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn2213

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