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Keywords:

  • Concept structuring;
  • Metaphor;
  • Time;
  • Space;
  • Perspective;
  • Mental time travel;
  • Mental imagery

Abstract

This article provides the first comprehensive conceptual account for the imagistic mental machinery that allows us to travel through time—for the time machine in our mind. It is argued that language reveals this imagistic machine and how we use it. Findings from a range of cognitive fields are theoretically unified and a recent proposal about spatialized mental time travel is elaborated on. The following novel distinctions are offered: external versus internal viewing of time; ‘‘watching” time versus projective ‘‘travel” through time; optional versus obligatory mental time travel; mental time travel into anteriority or posteriority versus mental time travel into the past or future; single mental time travel versus nested dual mental time travel; mental time travel in episodic memory versus mental time travel in semantic memory; and ‘‘seeing” versus ‘‘sensing” mental imagery. Theoretical, empirical, and applied implications are discussed.