Daniel L Schacter

Daniel L Schacter
Harvard University | Harvard · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

590
Publications
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87,307
Citations

Publications

Publications (590)
Article
Despite its theoretical importance, little is known about how semantic memory structure facilitates and constrains creative idea generation. We examine whether the semantic richness of a concept has both benefits and costs to creative idea generation. Specifically, we tested whether cue set size-an index of semantic richness reflecting the average...
Preprint
Mounting evidence suggests distinct functional contributions of the anterior and posterior hippocampus to autobiographical memory retrieval, but how these subregions function under different retrieval demands as memories age is not yet understood. Specifically, autobiographical memory retrieval is not a homogenous process, rather, it is thought to...
Article
Shifting to a novel visual perspective during retrieval influences autobiographical memories (AM) and can lead to persistent changes in memories. Adopting an observer-like compared to an own eyes perspective reduces episodic information during AM recall, but less is known regarding how viewpoint influences semantic information. In the current study...
Article
Recent work indicates that eye movements support the retrieval of episodic memories by reactivating the spatiotemporal context in which they were encoded. Although similar mechanisms have been thought to support simulation of future episodes, there is currently no evidence favoring this proposal. In the present study, we investigated the role of ey...
Article
Full-text available
A variety of evidence demonstrates that memory is a reconstructive process prone to errors and distortions. However, the complex relationship between memory encoding, strength of memory reactivation, and the likelihood of reporting true or false memories has yet to be ascertained. We address this issue in a setting that mimics a real-life experienc...
Article
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Human beings regularly "mentally travel" to past and future times in memory and imagination. In theory, whether an event is remembered or imagined (its "mnemicity") underspecifies whether it is oriented toward the past or the future (its "temporality"). However, it remains unclear to what extent the temporal orientation of such episodic simulations...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Autobiographical Interview has been used in more than two hundred studies to assess the content of autobiographical memories. In a typical experiment, participants recall memories, which are then scored manually for internal details (episodic details from the central event) and external details (largely non-episodic details). Scoring these narr...
Article
Bckground Theories of suicide suggest that suicidal ideation (SI) results in part from difficulty imagining the future, which itself relies on the ability to remember the past. The present study examines multiple components of episodic future thinking and memory including event richness, which is commonly measured within the cognitive literature bu...
Article
A prominent feature of mental event (i.e. ‘episodic’) simulations is their temporal orientation: human adults can generate episodic representations directed towards the past or the future. Here, we investigated how the temporal orientation of imagined events relates to the contents of these events. Is there something intrinsically temporal about ep...
Article
Episodic retrieval plays a functional-adaptive role in supporting divergent thinking, the ability to creatively combine different pieces of information. However, the same constructive memory process that provides a functional-adaptive benefit can also leave memory prone to error. In two experiments, we employed an individual differences approach to...
Article
Previous research indicates that episodic retrieval contributes to divergent creative thinking. However, this research has relied on standard laboratory tests of divergent creative thinking, such as generating creative uses for objects; it is unknown whether episodic retrieval also contributes to domain-specific forms of creativity. Here we start t...
Article
Older adults are at high risk of suffering debilitating health effects from COVID-19. Effective communication of associated risks is therefore paramount. A new study finds that imagining a personalized disease transmission event amplifies perceived risk and bolsters risk-related information seeking in older age.
Preprint
Over time, memories lose episodic detail and become distorted, a process with serious ramifications for topics such as eyewitness identification. What are the processes which contribute to such transformation over time? We investigated the roles of post learning sleep and retrieval practice in memory accuracy, transformation, and distortion, using...
Article
Divergent thinking (the ability to generate creative ideas by combining diverse types of information) has been previously linked to the ability to imagine novel and specific future autobiographical events. Here, we examined whether divergent thinking is differentially associated with the ability to construct novel imagined future events and recast...
Article
In an analysis of memory systems, Sherry and Schacter (Psychological Review, 94, 439–454, 1987) emphasized the importance of functional and evolutionary considerations for characterizing mechanisms of memory. The present article considers four different yet closely related topics from more recent research in which similar considerations have played...
Article
Full-text available
Affective future thinking allows us to prepare for future outcomes, but we know little about neural representation of emotional future simulations. We used a multi-voxel pattern analysis to determine whether patterns of neural activity can reliably distinguish between positive and negative future simulations. Neural patterning in the anterior cingu...
Article
Full-text available
Ainslie offers an encompassing and compelling account of willpower, although his big-picture view comes occasionally at the cost of low resolution. We comment on ambiguity in the metacognitive and prospective mechanisms of resolve implicated in recursive self-prediction. We hope to show both the necessity and promise of specifying testable cognitiv...
Article
Full-text available
Flexible retrieval mechanisms that allow us to infer relationships across events may also lead to memory errors or distortion when details of one event are misattributed to the related event. Here, we tested how making successful inferences alters representation of overlapping events, leading to false memories. Participants encoded overlapping asso...
Article
Full-text available
The necessity of the human hippocampus for remote autobiographical recall remains fiercely debated. The standard model of consolidation predicts a time-limited role for the hippocampus, but the competing multiple trace/trace transformation theories posit indefinite involvement. Lesion evidence remains inconclusive, and the inferences one can draw f...
Preprint
Full-text available
The necessity of the human hippocampus for remote autobiographical recall remains fiercely debated. The standard model of consolidation predicts a time-limited role for the hippocampus, but the competing multiple trace/trace transformation theories posit indefinite involvement. Lesion evidence remains inconclusive, and the inferences one can draw f...
Article
Full-text available
Humans can vividly recall and re-experience events from their past, and these are commonly referred to as episodic or autobiographical memories. fMRI experiments reliably associate autobiographical event recall with activity in a network of "default"or "core"brain regions. However, as prior studies have relied on covert (silent) recall procedures,...
Book
The human imagination manifests in countless different forms. We imagine the possible and the impossible. How do we do this so effortlessly? Why did the capacity for imagination evolve and manifest with undeniably manifold complexity uniquely in human beings? This handbook reflects on such questions by collecting perspectives on imagination from lea...
Article
Full-text available
Despite advances in understanding the consequences of age-related episodic memory decline for future simulation, much remains unknown regarding changes in the neural underpinnings of future thinking with age. We used a repetition suppression paradigm to explore age-related changes in the neural correlates of emotional future simulation. Younger and...
Article
Prior functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies indicate that a core network of brain regions, including the hippocampus, is jointly recruited during episodic memory, episodic simulation, and divergent creative thinking. Because fMRI data are correlational, it is unknown whether activity increases in the hippocampus, and the core network...
Article
Full-text available
Cognitive and neuroimaging evidence suggests that episodic and semantic memory—memory for autobiographical events and conceptual meaning, respectively—support different facets of creative thinking, with a growing number of studies reporting activation of brain regions within the default network during performance on creative thinking tasks. The pre...
Article
Full-text available
Many fundamental choices in life are intertemporal: they involve trade-offs between sooner and later outcomes. In recent years there has been a surge of interest into how people make intertemporal decisions, given that such decisions are ubiquitous in everyday life and central in domains from substance use to climate change action. While it is clea...
Article
Objectives: A common finding in the mind-wandering literature is that older adults (OAs) tend to mind-wander less frequently than young adults (YAs). Here, we sought to determine whether this age-related difference in mind-wandering is attributable to age-related differences in motivation. Method: YAs and OAs completed an attention task during w...
Article
According to the constructive episodic simulation hypothesis, episodic simulation (i.e., imagining specific novel future episodes) draws on some of the same neurocognitive processes that support episodic memory (i.e., recalling specific past episodes). Episodic retrieval supports the ability to simulate future experiences by providing access to epi...
Article
Episodic simulation - the mental construction of a possible future event - has been consistently associated with enhanced activity in a set of neural regions referred to as the core network. In the current functional neuroimaging study, we assessed whether members of the core network are differentially associated with the subjective experience of f...
Article
Full-text available
We explored the possibility that increasing participants’ motivation to perform well on a focal task can reduce mind wandering. Participants completed a sustained-attention task either with standard instructions (normal motivation), or with instructions informing them that they could be excused from the experiment early if they achieved a certain l...
Article
Full-text available
Remembering the past and imagining the future are hallmarks of mental time travel. We provide evidence that such experiences are influenced by individual differences in temporal and affective biases in cognitive style, particularly brooding rumination (a negative past-oriented bias) and optimism (a positive future-oriented bias). Participants compl...
Article
Full-text available
Humans have the adaptive capacity for imagining hypothetical episodes. Such episodic simulation is based on a neural network that includes the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). This network draws on existing knowledge (e.g., of familiar people and places) to construct imaginary events (e.g., meeting with the person at that place). Here, we te...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: When younger adults simulated positive future events, subsequent memory is positively biased. In the current studies we explore age-related changes in the impact of emotional future simulation on subsequent memory. Methods: In Experiment 1, younger and older adults simulated emotional future events before learning the hypothetical outco...
Article
Previous research suggests that default-mode network (DMN) and dorsal attention network (DAN) are involved in internally- and externally-directed attention, respectively, through interactions with salience network (SN) and frontoparietal network (FPCN). Performing a task requiring external attention is often accompanied by a down-regulation of atte...
Preprint
Full-text available
Creative thinking has long been associated with spreading of activation through concepts within semantic memory. Despite its theoretical importance, little is yet known about how semantic memory structure facilitates and constrains idea production. We examine one potential influence on spreading activation during divergent thinking known as the fan...
Article
Recalling and imagining autobiographical experiences involves constructing event representations within spatiotemporal contexts. We tested whether generating autobiographical events within a primarily spatial (where the event occurred) or temporal (the sequence of actions that occurred) context affected how the associated mental representation was...
Article
Numerous studies indicate that an episodic specificity induction (ESI)-brief training in recollecting the details of a past experience-enhances performance on subsequent tasks that rely on episodic retrieval, including autobiographical memory, imagination, problem solving, and creative thinking. In 5 experiments, we examined whether these benefits...
Article
Interventions that increase the specificity of episodic memory and future-oriented problem solving have been shown to help both young adults and clinical populations regulate their emotions toward potential stressors. However, little is known about how episodic specificity impacts anxiety levels in older adults, who show reduced specificity of epis...
Article
Full-text available
In this article I discuss some of the major questions, findings, and ideas that have driven my research program, which has examined various aspects of human memory using a combination of cognitive, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging approaches. I do so from a career perspective that describes important scientific influences that have shaped my ap...
Article
Full-text available
Recent claims that people spend 30–50% of their waking lives mind wandering (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010; Kane et al., 2007) have become widely accepted and frequently cited. While acknowledging attention to be inconstant and wavering, and mind wandering to be ubiquitous, we argue and present evidence that such simple quantitative estimates are m...
Article
Full-text available
Numerous studies have indicated that remembering specific past experiences (i.e., episodic memory) and imagining specific novel future experiences (i.e., episodic simulation) are supported by common mental processes. An open question, however, is whether and to what extent the content of specific past episodes is sampled when simulating a specific...
Preprint
Human memory systems are subject to many imperfections, including memory distortions and the creation of false memories. Here, we demonstrate a case where memory distortion is adaptive, increasing the overall accuracy of memories. Participants viewed multiple real-world objects from a given category (10 airplanes, 10 backpacks…), and later recalled...
Article
The core network refers to a set of neural regions that have been consistently associated with episodic memory retrieval and episodic future simulation. This network is thought to support the constructive thought processes that allow the retrieval and flexible combination of stored information to reconstruct past and construct novel future experien...
Article
Full-text available
Prior research has suggested that an episodic specificity induction – brief training in recollecting the details of a past event – affects downstream performance on remembering past and imagining future events, solving problems, and thinking creatively. We have hypothesised that a process common to these tasks that the induction may target is event...
Article
Episodic counterfactual thoughts (CFT) and autobiographical memories (AM) involve the reactivation and recombination of episodic memory components into mental simulations. Upon reactivation, memories become labile and prone to modification. Thus, reactivating AM in the context of mentally generating CFT may provide an opportunity for editing proces...
Article
As empirical research on mind-wandering accelerates, we draw attention to an emerging trend in how mind-wandering is conceptualized. Previously articulated definitions of mind-wandering differ from each other in important ways, yet they also maintain overlapping characteristics. This conceptual structure suggests that mind-wandering is best conside...
Article
Full-text available
People frequently engage in future thinking in everyday life, but it is unknown how simulating an event in advance changes how that event is remembered once it takes place. To initiate study of this important topic, we conducted two experiments in which participants simulated emotional events before learning the hypothetical outcome of each event v...
Preprint
Numerous studies indicate that an episodic specificity induction (ESI) - brief training in recollecting the details of a past experience - enhances performance on subsequent tasks that rely on episodic retrieval, including autobiographical memory, imagination, problem solving, and creative thinking. In four experiments, we examined whether these be...
Preprint
Full-text available
As empirical research on mind-wandering accelerates, we draw attention to an emerging trend in how mind-wandering is conceptualized. Previously articulated definitions of mind-wandering differ from each other in important ways, yet they also maintain overlapping characteristics. This conceptual structure suggests that mind-wandering is best conside...
Article
Full-text available
We examined the hypothesis that people can modulate their mind wandering on the basis of their expectations of upcoming challenges in a task. To this end, we developed a novel paradigm in which participants were presented with an analog clock, via a computer monitor, and asked to push a button every time the clock’s hand was pointed at 12:00. Impor...
Article
Episodic simulation is an adaptive process that can support goal-directed activity and planning success. We investigated the neural architecture associated with the episodic simulation improvement to the likelihood of carrying out future actions by isolating the brain regions associated with this facilitation in a prospective memory paradigm. Parti...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent claims that people spend 40-50% of their waking lives mind wandering (MW) (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010; Kane et al. 2007) have become widely accepted and frequently cited. While acknowledging attention to be inconstant and wavering, and MW to be ubiquitous, we argue and present evidence that such simple quantitative estimates are misleadin...
Preprint
Recent claims that people spend 40-50% of their waking lives mind wandering (MW) (Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010; Kane et al. 2007) have become widely accepted and frequently cited. While acknowledging attention to be inconstant and wavering, and MW to be ubiquitous, we argue and present evidence that such simple quantitative estimates are misleadin...
Article
Prior research suggests that episodic memory can guide value-based decisions when single episodes are encoded in relation to the specific reward-context in which they were experienced. The current experiments examine the role that a flexible recombination-related retrieval mechanism that allows one to link together distinct events plays in the misa...
Article
Full-text available
Attachment theories and studies have shown that Internal Working Models (IWMs) can impact autobiographical memory and future-oriented information processing relevant to close relationships. According to the constructive episodic simulation hypothesis (CESH), both remembering the past and imagining the future rely on episodic memory. We hypothesised...
Article
Episodic memory involves flexible retrieval processes that allow a person to link elements of distinct episodes in order to make novel inferences across events. In younger adults, we recently found that the same retrieval-related recombination mechanism that supports successful associative inference produces source misattributions as a consequence...
Article
According to Mahr & Csibra (M&C), the view that the constructive nature of episodic memory is related to its role in simulating future events has difficulty explaining why memory is often accurate. We hold this view, but disagree with their conclusion. Here we consider ideas and evidence regarding flexible recombination processes in episodic retrie...
Chapter
In this chapter we present an overview of emerging research on the cognitive and neural bases of episodic or future event simulation—imagining a specific experience in one's personal future—and its relation to memory. The review is presented from the perspective of providing a useful reference for those interested in developing their own work on th...
Article
Full-text available
Prior research has indicated that brain regions and networks that support semantic memory, top-down and bottom-up attention, and cognitive control are all involved in divergent creative thinking. Kernels of evidence suggest that neural processes supporting episodic memory-the retrieval of particular elements of prior experiences-may also be involve...
Article
Imagination and creative cognition are often associated with the brain’s default network. Recent evidence has also linked cognitive control systems to performance on tasks involving imagination and creativity, with a growing number of studies reporting functional interactions between cognitive control and default network regions. We sought to exten...
Article
Full-text available
Both the hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) appear to be critical for episodic future simulation. Damage to either structure affects one's ability to remember the past and imagine the future, and both structures are commonly activated as part of a wider core network during future simulation. However, the precise role played by e...
Article
Full-text available
Across 2 independent samples, we examined the relation between individual differences in rates of self-caught mind wandering and individual differences in temporal monitoring of an unrelated response goal. Rates of self-caught mind wandering were assessed during a commonly used sustained-attention task, and temporal goal monitoring was indexed duri...
Article
Full-text available
Imagining helping a person in need can facilitate prosocial intentions. Here we investigated how this effect can change with aging. We found that, similar to young adults, older adults were more willing to help a person in need when they imagined helping that person compared to a baseline condition that did not involve helping, but not compared to...
Article
Episodic future thinking refers to the capacity to imagine or simulate experiences that might occur in one's personal future. Cognitive, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging research concerning episodic future thinking has accelerated during recent years. This article discusses research that has delineated cognitive and neural mechanisms that suppo...
Article
Full-text available
A critical adaptive feature of future thinking involves the ability to generate alternative versions of possible future events. However, little is known about the nature of the processes that support this ability. Here we examined whether an episodic specificity induction - brief training in recollecting details of a recent experience that selectiv...
Article
When people revisit past autobiographical events they often imagine alternative ways in which such events could have occurred. Often these episodic counterfactual thoughts (eCFT) are momentary and fleeting, but sometimes they are simulated frequently and repeatedly. However, little is known about the neural differences between frequently versus inf...