Mental time travel in animals?

Thomas Suddendorf, Janie BUSBY

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

257 Citations (Scopus)


Are humans alone in their ability to reminisce about the past and imagine the future? Recent evidence suggests that food-storing birds (scrub jays) have access to information about what they have stored where and when. This has raised the possibility of mental time travel (MTT) in animals and sparked similar research with other species. Here we caution that such data do not provide convincing evidence for MTT. Examination of characteristics of human MTT (e.g. non-verbal declaration, generativity, developmental prerequisites) points to other avenues as to how a case for animal MTT could be made. In light of the current lack of evidence, however, we maintain that MTT is a uniquely human characteristic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-396
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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