Associate Professor, Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow
G62C Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Ithaca, New York
Human Development


I am an associate professor and the director of the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition in the Department of Human Development at Cornell University. My research examines large-scale brain network dynamics and their role in cognition. Currently, I am investigating the link between autobiography and imagination, how we conceive of the future, and successful navigation of the social world. These investigations extend to the related processes of memory, cognitive control, and social cognition and the interacting brain networks that support them. I am also actively involved in the development and implementation of multivariate and network-based statistical approaches to assess brain activity. In doing so, I hope to better understand the properties of the brain networks underlying complex cognitive processes as they change across the lifespan.

I currently have an active program of cognitive neuroscience and aging research into brain network dynamics of goal-directed cognition and behavior across the adult lifespan. This program involves both behavioral and neuroimaging data collection and analysis.

Spreng, R.N., Lockrow, A.W., DuPre, E., Setton, R., Spreng, K.A.P. & Turner, G.R. (2018). Semanticized autobiographical memory and the default – executive coupling hypothesis of aging. Neuropsychologia, 110, 37-43.

DuPre, E. & Spreng, R.N. (2017). Structural covariance networks across the lifespan, from 6 to 94 years of age. Network Neuroscience, 1, 302-323.

Schmitz, T.W. & Spreng, R.N. (2016). Basal forebrain degeneration precedes and predicts the cortical spread of Alzheimer’s pathology. Nature Communications, 7, 13249.

Christoff, K., Irving, Z.C., Fox, K.C.R., Spreng, R.N. & Andrews-Hanna, J.R. (2016). Mind-wandering as spontaneous thought: A dynamic framework. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 17, 718–731.

Spreng, R.N., Stevens, W.D., Viviano, J. & Schacter, D.L. (2016). Attenuated anticorrelation between the default and dorsal attention networks with aging: Evidence from task and rest. Neurobiology of Aging, 45, 149-160.

Turner, G.R. & Spreng, R.N. (2015). Prefrontal engagement and reduced default network suppression co-occur and are dynamically coupled in older adults: The default – executive coupling hypothesis of aging. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27, 2462-2476.

Spreng, R.N., DuPre, E., Selarka, D., Garcia, J., Gojkovic, S., Mildner, J., Luh, W.-M. & Turner, G.R. (2014). Goal-congruent default network activity facilitates cognitive control. Journal of Neuroscience, 34, 14108-14111.

Andrews-Hanna, J.R., Smallwood, J. & Spreng, R.N. (2014). The default network and self-generated thought: Component processes, dynamic control, and clinical relevance. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1316, 29-52.

Stevens, W.D. & Spreng, R.N. (2014). Resting-state functional connectivity MRI reveals active processes central to cognition. Wiley International Reviews (WIREs) Cognitive Science, 5, 233-245.

*Hassabis, D., *Spreng, R.N., Rusu, A.A., Robbins, C.A., Mar, R.A. & Schacter, D.L. (2014). Imagine all the people: How the brain creates and uses personality models to predict behavior. Cerebral Cortex, 24, 1979-1987. *co-first authors

Spreng, R.N. & Turner, G.R. (2013). Structural covariance of the default network in healthy and pathological aging. Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 15226 - 15234. 

Spreng, R.N., Sepulcre, J., Turner, G.R., Stevens, W.D. & Schacter, D.L. (2013). Intrinsic architecture underlying the relations among the default, dorsal attention, and frontoparietal control networks of the human brain. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25, 74-86.

Spreng, R.N. & Schacter, D.L. (2012). Default network modulation and large-scale network interactivity in healthy young and old adults. Cerebral Cortex, 22, 2610-2621.

Spreng, R.N., Stevens, W.D., Chamberlain, J., Gilmore, A.W. & Schacter, D.L. (2010). Default network activity, coupled with the frontoparietal control network, supports goal-directed cognition. NeuroImage, 31, 303-317.

Spreng, R.N. & Grady, C. (2010). Patterns of brain activity supporting autobiographical memory, prospection and theory-of-mind and their relationship to the default mode network. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22, 1112-1123.

Spreng, R.N., Mar, R.A. & Kim, A.S.N. (2009). The common neural basis of autobiographical memory, prospection, navigation, theory of mind and the default mode: A quantitative meta-analysis. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 21, 489-510.

HD 4630: Introduction to functional MRI analysis for human neuroimaging (Spring)

HD 4730: Network Neuroscience: Selected Topics (Spring)

HD 2200: Human brain and mind: An introduction to cognitive neuroscience & neurology (Fall)

HD 6630: Resting-State Functional MRI: Methodological innovation & challenges (Spring)

  • B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
  • M.A. & Ph.D., Psychology, University of Toronto, ON
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest, Toronto, ON
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA