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Memories of the Future

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The ability to remember helps not just to glimpse into the past; a sharp memory can help with creativity, productivity and even the ability to imagine the future, according to several psychologists. People’s memories may also help them imagine their future, according to researcher Daniel L Schacter, PhD, a psychology professor at Harvard University. Schacter and his colleagues have been conducting brain imaging research that suggests that the ability to remember past events may be crucially involved in people’s ability to imagine events that have not happened yet and even simulate these ‘future’ occurrences. 

Studies show that certain brain regions that have traditionally been associated with memory, such as the medial temporal lobe, appear to be similarly activated when people imagine future experiences in brain imaging studies, according to Schacter. “Memories of things that have already happened to us apparently support the formation in our minds of future events by taking and recombining stored information into an event we imagine will happen,” Schacter says.