Distinct and common cerebral activation changes during mental time travel in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients

A. Ernst, V. Noblet, E. Denkova, F. Blanc, J. De Seze, D. Gounot, L. Manning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Mental time travel (MTT) entails the ability to mentally travel into autobiographical memory (AM) and episodic future thinking (EFT). While AM and EFT share common phenomenological and cerebral functional properties, distinctive characteristics have been documented in healthy and clinical populations. No report, to our knowledge, has informed on the functional underpinnings of MTT impairment in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, hence the aim of this work. We studied 22 relapsing-remitting MS patients and 22 matched controls. Participants underwent an AM/EFT assessment using the Autobiographical Interview (Levine et al. 2002), followed by a functional MRI session. The latter consisted in AM and EFT tasks, distinguishing the construction and elaboration phases of events. The results showed impaired performance for AM and EFT in patients, accompanied by increased cerebral activations mostly located in the frontal regions, which extended to the parietal, lateral temporal and posterior regions during AM/EFT tasks, relative to healthy controls. Enhanced brain activations in MS patients were particularly evident during the EFT task and involved the hippocampus, frontal, external temporal, and cingulate regions. The construction phase required greater fronto-parieto-temporal activations in MS patients relative to both healthy controls, and the elaboration phase. Taking together, our results suggested the occurrence of cerebral activation changes in the context of MTT in MS patients, expressed by distinct and common mechanisms for AM and EFT. This study may provide new insights in terms of cerebral activation changes in brain lesion and their application to clinical settings, considering AM/EFT’s central role in everyday life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-313
Number of pages18
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Cerebral activation changes
  • Functional MRI
  • Mental time travel
  • Multiple sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Distinct and common cerebral activation changes during mental time travel in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this