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Prog Brain Res. 2017;235:219-237. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2017.07.011. Epub 2017 Oct 12.

Addictive behaviors: Why and how impaired mental time matters?

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Laboratoire de Psychologie Médicale et d'Addictologie, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium. Electronic address:
Unité de Recherche Clinique Intersectorielle en Psychiatrie à vocation régionale Pierre Deniker, Centre Hospitalier Henri Laborit, Poitiers, France; Université de Poitiers-INSERM CIC-P 1402 CHU de Poitiers-INSERM U 1084, Experimental and Clinical Neuroscience Laboratory-Groupement de Recherche CNRS, Poitiers, France.
Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, United States.


Mental time travel (MTT) allows navigation into the past, the future, and the minds of others, and it subserves future-oriented decision-making. Impaired MTT has been associated with a tendency to over-rely on the present, which is a characteristic of addictive behaviors. We here discuss the possible relationship between impaired autographical memory, future-oriented MTT, shortened time horizons, suboptimal social cognition, and poor decision-making in individuals with drug and gambling use disorders. We elaborate on how impaired MTT could compromise the process of change in addiction recovery and the effectiveness of psychotherapy. We argue that facilitating MTT represents, for individuals with addictive behaviors, an important process to enhance readiness to change, and to improve the quality and the efficiency of psychosocial interventions that focus on "emotional correction."


Addiction; Change process; Gambling; Impulsivity; Mental time travel

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