Mental time in amnesia: evidence from bilateral medial temporal damage before and after recovery
The human mind is continuously involved in "projecting" the self in time in order to process past memories and predict future occurrences. "Self-projection" in time involves episodic and spatial memory, relying on medial-temporal structures, but also engages visuo-spatial imagery, relying on occipito-temporal structures, and self-location, relying on temporo-parietal structures. Here we had the rare opportunity to investigate the relation between self-projection in time and memory, using a novel behavioural paradigm, in a patient with subacute bilateral medial-temporal damage during a period of amnesia as well as after recovery. Despite her memory deficit the patient was able to "project" herself to past and future, yet with significant improvement after recovery. We discuss our findings with respect to the relations between episodic memory and medial-temporal structures with self-projection in time to past and future.