Understanding Human’s Innate Time Travel Ability

Posted by on June 2nd, 2010


We travel back and forth through time. We are time travelers. So much so we don’t even realize it. Nor do we realize that we are slightly leaning awkwardly while remembering the past or pondering the future.

The ability to mentally meander through time by remembering the past or imagining the future sets humans apart from many other species, helping us to learn from what came before and plan for what lies ahead. However, remarkably little is known about how such mental time travel works.

Past research showed that our perceptions of time are tightly linked with space. For instance, pondering the future makes us lean forward, while recalling the past makes us lean back, experimental psychologist Lynden Miles of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and his colleagues found.

Now Miles and his collaborators have discovered another interesting feat of the mind: Thinking about moving forward prompted speculation about the future, while imagining moving backward triggered reflections on the past.

This explains why downhill skiers are so good at remembering who’s birthdays are coming up.

[Live Science]

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