Aims: Prior research has been mainly concerned with the ability of patients with Korsakoff syndrome (KS) to project themselves into the past. Little is known about the patients' ability to project themselves into the future. We therefore compared past and future thinking in patients with KS.
Methods: We invited patients with KS and control participants to retrieve past events and reconstruct future events. Participants were also invited to rate subjective characteristics (i.e. time travel, emotional feeling, and visual imagery) of the past and future events.
Results: Patients with KS demonstrated low specificity, time travel, and emotional experience during past and future thinking. However, while lower emotional experience was observed in patients with KS than in the control participants during future thinking, no significant differences were observed between the two populations during past thinking. Regarding within-group comparisons, patients with KS demonstrated no significant differences between past and future thinking in terms of specificity, time travel, and visual imagery; however, they demonstrated higher emotional experience during past than during future thinking. Regarding control participants, they demonstrated no significant differences between past and future thinking in terms of specificity, time travel, emotional experience, and visual imagery.
Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate a diminished ability to construct specific future scenarios as well as a diminished subjective experience during future thinking in KS.