Karl K. Szpunar

University of illinois at chicago



Research Interests:

Future Thinking

Research has shown that people spend upwards of one-third of their daily lives mentally detached from ongoing activities, focusing instead on thoughts related to their personal past and future (e.g., What will I be doing this weekend?). My research focuses on the cognitive and neural underpinnings that give rise to the ability to reflect on the personal past and future, with a specific focus on the personal future. Specifically: How do we go about thinking about the future in our daily lives? How does memory support the various ways in which we think about the future? How does the healthy human brain support memory and future thinking? The aim of this research program is to elucidate the manner in which memory and future thinking support and possibly impede ongoing behavior in healthy and clinically relevant (e.g., anxiety disorders) populations.


Students commonly experience difficulty in maintaining attention over extended periods of time. This complaint is often accompanied by reports for the tendency to mind wander about personal events in educational contexts. Using both behavioral and functional brain imaging techniques, I am actively constructing a line of research aimed at developing interventions (e.g., interpolated testing) that can be used to reduce bouts of inattention and improve learning.

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assistant professor

Contact Information:

O: BSB, 1054B

P: 314-255-2114

E: szpunar@uic.edu

Mailing Address:

1007 W. Harrison Street

BSB, Rm. 1054B

Chicago, IL 60607