You are now in the main content area

Dr. Karl Szpunar

Assistant Professor
EducationPhD, Washington University in St. Louis
OfficeJOR 909
Areas of ExpertiseHuman memory, learning, future thinking, collective cognition

  Curriculum Vitae 


Dr. Karl Szpunar earned his HBSc from the University of Toronto at Mississauga, PhD from Washington University in St. Louis, and completed postdoctoral training at the Rotman Research Institute and Harvard University.

At Ryerson University, Dr. Szpunar directs the Memory Lab. The Memory Lab conducts research that elucidates the cognitive and neural mechanism supporting functional uses of memory in daily life. Topics of interest include the role of memory in learning and future thinking. Specifically, the Memory Lab is currently carrying out research that aims to (i) help learners overcome the limits of attention and memory in traditional educational settings, (ii) understand the role of memory in giving rise to spontaneous mental simulations of future events and their impact on behaviour and well-being, and (iii) understand how memory and future thinking in young and older adults can impact the future of society. Insights from these lines of research are being used to develop novel interventions for improving educational outcomes and public health.  These various research activities are made possible by funding support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the National Science Foundation.

The Memory Lab is always looking for undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in becoming involved in the study of human memory and future-oriented cognition. The Memory Lab also frequently collaborates with colleagues from the social and clinical sciences and welcomes students with diverse research interests. Please send inquires to:

Representative Publications

Shrikanth, S., Szpunar, P.M., & Szpunar, K.K. (2018). Staying positive in a dystopian future: A novel dissociation between personal and collective cognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 47, 1200-1210.

Szpunar, K.K. (2017). Directing the wandering mind. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26, 40-44. https://doi/org/10.1177/0963721416670320

Szpunar, K.K., Spreng, R.N., & Schacter, D.L. (2014). A taxonomy of prospection: Introducing an organizational framework for future-oriented cognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111, 18414-18421.