The University of Texas at Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Melanie J. Spence

Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies

Research Interests

Young infants’ processing of vocal and facial emotions; infants’ eye-tracking of faces and infant-directed speech

Curriculum Vitae


Email: [email protected]
Phone: 972-883-2206
Office: GR_4.532
Campus Mail Code: GR41
Website: Infant Learning Project


Dr. Melanie Spence is a leading researcher in the area of how young infants process speech stimuli and faces. Dr. Spence and her lab associates are studying how young infants scan faces, whether they can discern differences in positive and negative facial emotions, and if infants can match emotions in faces and voices. Her earlier work established that newborn infants recognize speech passages recited repeatedly before birth by their mothers. Dr. Spence has also explored preschool children’s memory development and speech perception skills, and her work has been published in numerous scientific journals. Dr. Spence has been recognized as a Fellow by the Association for Psychological Science and has won the Callier Scholar Award. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Emory University and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Recent and Selected Representative Publications

Recent Articles in Peer-Refereed Journals

Spence, M. J., Granier-Deferre, C., et Schaal, B. (2017). L’étude du comportement est unique pour comprendre la cognition fœtale et néonatale — L’imagerie cérébrale la compléte lorsqu’elle s’inspire de validité écologique. Enfance, 3, 307-328; doi:10.4074/S0013754517003032.

Busnel, M-C., Fifer, W., Granier-Deferre, C., Lecuyer, R., Mischel, G., Moon, C., Panneton, R., Schaal, B., Spence, M. (2017). Tony DeCasper, the man who changed contemporary views on human fetal cognitive abilities. Developmental Psychobiology, 59,135-139; DOI 10.1002/dev.21478.

Shepard, K.G., Spence, M.J., & Sasson., N.J. (2012). Distinct facial characteristics differentiate communicative intent of infant-directed speech. Infant and Child Development, 21, 555 — 578. First published online at 2 MAY 2012 | DOI: 10.1002/icd.1757.

Thierry, K. L., Lamb, M. E., Pipe, M. -E., & Spence, M. J. (2009). The flexibility of source- monitoring training: Reducing young children’s source confusions. Applied Cognitive Psychology. Published online in Wiley InterScience ( DOI:10.1002/acp.1574.

Spence, M. J. & Moore, D. S. (2002). Categorization of infant-directed speech. In J. W. Fagen & H. Hayne (Eds.), Advances in Infancy Research (Vol. 2, pp. 261-293). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

View more of Melanie Spence’s publications