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Department of Psychology

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Julia Spaniol


Associate Professor, Graduate Program Director & Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Aging


PhD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill




416-979-5000 x2268

Email Address:



Keywords: Cognitive aging, memory and decision making, motivation and reward

Dr. Spaniol received her doctorate in cognitive psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and subsequently completed postdoctoral work at Duke University Medical Center and at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest in Toronto. Since 2007, Dr. Spaniol has directed the Memory and Decision Processes (MAD) lab in the Department of Psychology at Ryerson University. In 2014, Dr. Spaniol received a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Cognitive Aging.

Research in the MAD lab examines (1) how cognitive functions, such as attention, memory and decision making, change across the lifespan, and (2) how motivation and emotion influence cognitive functions in younger and older adults. The goal of this research program is to identify the mechanisms through which cognitive performance can be maintained and optimized in people over 65 – the fastest-growing segment of Canadian society today. The MAD lab uses a combination of behavioural and brain-based methods, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and event-related potentials (ERPs). Currently, research in the MAD lab is supported by a Discovery Grant from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and by an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.

Dr. Spaniol teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. She welcomes inquiries from individuals interested in getting involved in the MAD lab as research participants, volunteers, student researchers (BA, MA, and PhD), or external collaborators.


Professional Affiliations:

  • Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science
  • Cognitive Neuroscience Society
  • Psychonomic Society


Recent publications

Bowen, H. J.*, Spaniol, J., Patel, R.*, & Voss, A. (2016). A diffusion model analysis of the cognitive mechanisms underlying delayed recognition of emotional stimuli. PloS ONE11(1): e0146769.

Williams, R. S.*, Biel, A. L.*, Wegier, P.*, Lapp, L. K.*, Dyson, B. J., & Spaniol, J. (2016). Age differences in the attention network test: Evidence from behavior and ERPs. Brain and Cognition102, 65-79.

Spaniol, J., Bowen, H. J., Wegier, P., & Grady, C. L. (2015). Neural responses to monetary incentives in younger and older adults. Brain Research1612, 70-82. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2014.09.063

Wegier, P.*, & Spaniol, J. (2015). The effect of time pressure on decisions from description and decisions from experience. PloS ONE, 10(4): e0123740. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123740

Spaniol, J., Schain, C.*, & Bowen, H. J.* (2014). Reward-enhanced memory in younger and older adults. Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 69, 730-40doi:10.1093/geronb/gbt044


*indicates trainee


Faculty Information

Mailing Address:

Department of Psychology
Ryerson University
350 Victoria Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5B 2K3, Canada

Fax: 416-979-5273


Campus Location

Offices: 380 Victoria St. [map]
Research Labs: 105 Bond St. [map]


Faculty Positions