Publication 1192

Marchetti G. (2014) Attention and working memory: Two basic mechanisms for constructing temporal experiences. Frontiers in Psychology 5(00880). Fulltext at
Various kinds of observations show that the ability of human beings to both consciously relive past events – episodic memory – and conceive future events, entails an active process of construction. This construction process also underpins many other important aspects of conscious human life, such as perceptions, language and conscious thinking. This article provides an explanation of what makes the constructive process possible and how it works. The process mainly relies on attentional activity, which has a discrete and periodic nature, and working memory, which allows for the combination of discrete attentional operations. An explanation is also provided of how past and future events are constructed. Relevance: The article (1) shows that various forms of consciousness (such as time travel, linguistic thought, dreams) are the result of an active process of construction, rather than faithful representations of a world independent from the observer; (2) puts forward an hypothesis about the most plausible mechanisms underpinning the process of construction; (3) shows how the combined working of these mechanisms generate some forms of consciousness



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