Mark A. Wheeler, Donald T. Stuss, and Endel Tulving
Toward a theory of episodic memory: the frontal lobes and autonoetic consciousness
Psychological Bulletin 121 (1997). 3: 331-354


Adult humans are capable of remembering prior events by mentally traveling back in time to re‐experience those events. In this review, the authors discuss this and other related capabilities, considering evidence from such diverse sources as brain imaging, neuropsychological experiments, clinical observations, and developmental psychology. The evidence supports a preliminary theory of episodic remembering, which holds that the prefrontal cortex plays a critical, supervisory role in empowering healthy adults with autonoetic consciousness—the capacity to mentally represent and become aware of subjective experiences in the past, present, and future. When a rememberer mentally travels back in subjective time to re‐experience his or her personal past, the result is an act of retrieval from episodic memory.

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