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Title: Investigating the impact of episodic future thinking on anxiety and its relationship to episodic memory
Author: Knott, Georgina
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 675X
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2017
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Episodic Future Thinking (EFT) is the ability to imagine oneself experiencing events in the future (Atance and O'Neill, 2001). This cognitive ability is often referred to as future Mental Time Travel (MTT) (Berntsen & Jacobsen, 2008). The first part of this thesis is a systematic review and narrative synthesis of 16 papers that critically evaluates the relationship between EFT and measures of anxiety. Interest in this topic was generated from the theoretical and clinical accounts of anxiety that make reference to the expectation of future life events. Whilst there is not consensus across the papers, the review indicates some preliminary support in favour of a positive correlation between anxiety and frequency of EFT. It also discusses results that suggest how anxiety is associated with EFT that has abstract and negative content. Consideration for the clinical implications of the findings are also reviewed. The second part of this thesis is an empirical paper that investigates whether there is a direct relationship between the recall of episodic memory (past MTT) and the ability to engage in EFT (future MTT). It also examines whether deficits in MTT can be explained by an impaired search and retrieval strategy, as opposed to fragmented scene representation. Two female patients with focal hippocampal damage and documented autobiographical memory impairment, were asked to describe six events from their past and imagine six events they could potentially experience in their future. The GaltonCrovitz-Schiffman cue-word technique (Crovitz-Schiffman, 1974; Galton, 1879) was used to generate event descriptions. The patients were then prompted to elaborate on their descriptions using a pre-determined list of questions. The level of detail in their unprompted and prompted descriptions of past and future events was compared with five age-matched neurotypical controls. The empirical paper presents two preliminary findings. Firstly, that scaffolding, in the provision of verbal cues assisted both patients to provide more detail for their past events. Secondly, that there may be a dissociation between the two directions of MTT; one of the patients displayed a strong trend towards a selective deficit in her prompted future descriptions.
Supervisor: Donnelly, Nicholas Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available