Scientific article

The Neural Basis of Personal Goal Processing When Envisioning Future Events

Published inJournal of cognitive neuroscience, vol. 22, no. 8, p. 1701-1713
Publication date2010

Episodic future thinking allows humans to mentally simulate virtually infinite future possibilities, yet this device is fundamentally goal-directed and should not be equated with fantasizing or wishful thinking. The purpose of this fMRI study was to investigate the neural basis of such goal-directed processing during future-event simulation. Participants were scanned while they imagined future events that were related to their personal goals (personal future events) and future events that were plausible but unrelated to their personal goals (nonpersonal future events). Results showed that imaging personal future events elicited stronger activation in ventral medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) compared to imaging nonpersonal future events. Moreover, these brain activations overlapped with activations elicited by a second task that assessed semantic self-knowledge (i.e., making judgments on one's own personality traits), suggesting that ventral MPFC and PCC mediate self-referential processing across different functional domains. It is suggested that these brain regions may support a collection of processes that evaluate, code, and contextualize the relevance of mental representations with regard to personal goals. The implications of these findings for the understanding of the function instantiated by the default network of the brain are also discussed.

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex/blood supply/physiology
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Oxygen/blood
  • Psychological Theory
  • Self Concept
  • Semantics
  • Thinking/physiology
  • Young Adult
Citation (ISO format)
D’ARGEMBEAU, Arnaud et al. The Neural Basis of Personal Goal Processing When Envisioning Future Events. In: Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 2010, vol. 22, n° 8, p. 1701–1713. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21314
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1530-8898

Technical informations

Creation08/14/2013 1:21:00 PM
First validation08/14/2013 1:21:00 PM
Update time03/14/2023 8:23:04 PM
Status update03/14/2023 8:23:03 PM
Last indexation01/16/2024 2:03:26 AM
All rights reserved by Archive ouverte UNIGE and the University of GenevaunigeBlack