New paper: The Functions of Prospection – Variations in Health and Disease

In a new paper published in Frontiers of Psychology, Muireann Irish and I review variations in the capacity to imagine the future. We focus on clinical and neuropsychological conditions, but also discuss normal aging, child development, and normal individual differences. The abstract is as follows…

Abstract: Much of human life revolves around anticipating and planning for the future. It has become increasingly clear that this capacity for prospective cognition is a core adaptive function of the mind. Here, we review the role of prospection in two key functional domains: goal-directed behavior and flexible decision-making. We then survey and categorize variations in prospection, with a particular focus on functional impact in clinical psychological conditions and neurological disorders. Finally, we suggest avenues for future research into the functions of prospection and the manner in which these functions can shift toward maladaptive outcomes. In doing so, we consider the conceptualization and measurement of prospection, as well as novel approaches to its augmentation in healthy people and managing its alterations in a clinical context.

We concentrate on the functions of prospection in goal-directed behaviour and flexible intertemporal choice. Includes a preview of some new data from a large forthcoming experiment expanding on the effect of cued foresight in reducing delay discounting
We suggest that some simple paradigms adapted from developmental psychology and elsewhere will offer useful testbeds for exploring variation in the fundamentals. Here, for example, are two ways to study how people engage in ‘strategic compensation’ for their anticipated limits

You can read the paper open access on the Frontiers website here.