When we remember things in a context that is different from the one in which we learned it, we experience forgetting. This phenomenon occurs not only with physical environments but also with psychological or internal environments. Our lab was the first to demonstrate that changes in mental context (such as drastic changes in the thoughts you experience) can cause forgetting. We have demonstrated that we can achieve motivated forgetting when we engage in thought substitution, by thinking of things unrelated to the content of what we are attempting to forget. Importantly not all thought substitutions are effective. Some distracting thoughts produce more forgetting than others, and we are interested in why some thought substitutions are more effective than others.
By imagining and thinking of things that are not here and now, we can mentally transport ourselves across time and place, across various directions in time, such as by thinking about things in the past, or by imaging future events. Through the power of imagination we can teleport ourselves across various contexts, and examine the how such mental travel across contexts impacts memory, and forgetting in particular.