A Research was conducted by Kenneth Norman, Sean Polyn and Jonathan Cohen (Neuroscientists) for studying mental time travel. It was funded by the National Institute of Health. It is the way in which people relate back to various events that has occurred in the past. This could help in knowing about their mental state.
The research is of great importance in the field on psychology and also in the better understanding the mental state of the Alzheimer patients. There were nine participants in the study who were shown three different categories of pictures. The first one being famous celebrities; secondly famous location and thirdly common objects. Totally 90 images were shown to them and were asked to recall.
What happens during the recalling procedure is that the person tries to align his mental state to the state when he first saw the picture. Hence it is called as mental time travel because the person travels back the memory lane to associate or recall the image.
When recalling events the person usually tries to put himself back in the same situation he was at the time of the occurrence of the event. This will help in the remembering of minute details about the event.
The researchers made use of the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner to document the participants' brain activity patterns when they studied the images. Also changes occurring every second were measured which was useful in determining what the participant would recall next before they actually remembered.
Then a computer program was designed to differentiate between the patterns of brain activity associated with studying faces, locations or objects. It was also used to study the brain activity of the participants during the initial viewing and during the recalling event.
It is seen that participants cue the memory for general image to recall the specific details. It all zeros down to how well the person cues the memory. In the future further research should be conducted to study in detail about the person's ability to cue the memory and thereby making it valuable in recalling various details.