Episodic foresight deficits in long-term opiate users

Mercuri, Kimberly, Terrett, Gill, Henry, Julie D., Bailey, Phoebe E., Curran, H. Val and Rendell, Peter G. (2015) Episodic foresight deficits in long-term opiate users. Psychopharmacology, 232 7: 1337-1345. doi:10.1007/s00213-014-3772-2

Author Mercuri, Kimberly
Terrett, Gill
Henry, Julie D.
Bailey, Phoebe E.
Curran, H. Val
Rendell, Peter G.
Title Episodic foresight deficits in long-term opiate users
Journal name Psychopharmacology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1432-2072
Publication date 2015-04-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s00213-014-3772-2
Open Access Status
Volume 232
Issue 7
Start page 1337
End page 1345
Total pages 9
Place of publication Heidelberg Germany
Publisher Springer
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract

There is considerable literature showing that opiate use is associated with a range of neurocognitive deficits, including deficits in executive control and episodic memory. However, no study to date has assessed whether these neurocognitive difficulties extend to the ability to mentally time travel into one’s personal future. This is a surprising omission given that executive control and episodic memory are considered to be critical for episodic foresight. In addition, opiate-related brain changes have been identified in the neural regions that underlie the capacity for episodic foresight.


In the present study, we assessed how episodic foresight is affected in the context of chronic opiate use, as well as the degree to which any deficits are related to difficulties with executive control and episodic memory.

Methods and Results

Forty-eight long-term heroin users enrolled in an opiate substitution program and 48 controls were tested. The results showed that, relative to controls, the clinical group exhibited significant impairment in episodic foresight but not episodic memory (as indexed by an adapted version of the Autobiographical Interview). For executive function, the clinical group was impaired on only one of three measures (Inhibition).


These data provide important preliminary evidence that episodic foresight might be particularly susceptible to the neurocognitive effects of opiate use, as the difficulties identified were not secondary to more general executive control or episodic memory impairment. Because a number of widely used relapse prevention protocols require the ability to mentally project into the future, these data have potentially important practical implications in relation to the treatment of substance dependence disorders.
Keyword Episodic foresight
Opiate users
Autobiographical Interview
Executive functions
Episodic memory
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online ahead of print 17 Oct 2014

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
Official Audit
School of Psychology Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 1 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 3 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 31 Mar 2015, 01:09:41 EST by System User on behalf of School of Psychology