Melanie Spence

Professor and Program Head - Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Tags: Psychological Sciences

Professional Preparation

Ph.D. - Experimental Psychology
University of North Carolina at Greensboro - 1984
M.A. - Experimental Psychology
University of North Carolina at Greensboro - 1980
B.A. - Psychology
Emory University - 1978

Research Areas

Research Interests

Current research examines young infants' processing of voices and speech. One specific focus is the study of infants' categorization of infant-directed (ID) utterances that communicate different affective messages (e.g., approving vs. comforting). Other research interests include young children's memory for voices, speech, and faces.

Publications

Shepard, K., Spence, M. J., & Sasson, N. J. (2012). Distinct Facial Characteristics Differentiate Communicative Intent of Infant-Directed Speech. Infant & Child Development, 21(6), 555-578. doi:10.1002/icd.1757 2012 - Publication
Jerger, S., Damian, M., Spence, M. J., Tye-Murray, N., Abdi, H. (2009). Developmental shifts in children's sensitivity to visual speech: A new multimodal picture word task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 102, 40-59. 2009 - Publication
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. (www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/acp.1574. 2009 - Publication
Touchstone, E. W., Spence, M. J., & Atchison, K. K. (2008), Infants categorization of dynamic emotional expressions: Changes from 6 to 10 months. Poster presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies, Vancouver, BC. 2008 - Publication
Atchison, K. K., Spence, M. J., & Touchstone, E. W. (2008). The impact of faces on infants categorization of infant-directed speech. In M. Goldstein (Chair), New functions of Infant- directed speech: Evidence from word learning and categorization. Symposium conducted the International Conference on Infant Studies, Vancouver, BC. 2008 - Publication
Atchison, K. K. & Spence, M. J. (2007). Four-month-old infants' categorization of infant-directed speech when viewing female, male, and scrambled faces. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, MA. 2007 - Publication
Touchstone, E. W. & Spence, M. J. (2006). Infants categorization of dynamic faces: Comparing repeated and fixed trials procedures. Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Sciences Meeting, NY, NY. 2006 - Publication
Kuhlman-Atchison, K. & Spence, M. J. (2006). The influence of social context on 4-month-olds categorization of infant-directed speech. Poster presented at the Society for Human Development Research, Fort Worth, TX. 2006 - Publication
Spence, M. J. & Touchstone, E. W. (2006). Infants attention to visual and auditory stimuli. Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Sciences Meeting, NY, NY. 2006 - Publication
Jerger, S., Damian, M., Tye-Murray, N., Dougherty, M., Mehta, J., & Spence, M. J. (2006). Effects of childhood hearing loss on organization of semantic memory: Typicality and relatedness, Ear and Hearing, 27, 686-702. 2006 - Publication

Appointments

Professor
The University of Texas at Dallas [2006–Present]
Program Head
The University of Texas at Dallas [2005–Present]
Associate Professor of Psychology
The University of Texas at Dallas [1996–2005]
Assistant Professor of Psychology
The University of Texas at Dallas [1989–1996]
Visiting Assistant Professor
The University of Texas at Dallas [1988–1989]
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham [1986–1987]

Projects

Recognition of famous cartoon voices
2000–2000 Spence, M., Rollins, P. & Jerger, S., Paper presented at the American Auditory Society Meeting.
Voice familiarity affects 4-month-olds' categorization of infant-directed speech
2005–2005 Spence, M. J., Atchison, K. J. Granado, E. & Sokolsky, J. F., Poster presented at Cognitive Development Society Fourth Biennial Meeting, San Diego, CA.
Development of Infant-Directed Speech Categorization: Effects Of Facial-Vocal Synchrony
2009–2009 Atchison, K. K. & Spence, M. J., Poster presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies, Baltimore, MD.
Evidence for changes in categorization of infant-directed utterances between 4 and 6 months
2000–2000 Spence, M. J. & Moore, D. S., Poster presented at the Twelfth International Conference on Infant Studies, Brighton, UK.
Disparity in categorization of dynamic emotional expressions by 6- and 10-month-old infants
2008–2008 Spence, M. J. & Touchstone, E. W., Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology, Washington, DC.

Additional Information

Professional Memberships
  • Association for Psychological Science
  • Psychonomic Society
  • Cognitive Development Society
  • Society for Research in Child Development
  • International Society for Developmental Psychobiology
  • International Society for Infant Studies
Honors:
  • DeCasper, A. J. & Spence, M. J. (1986). Prenatal maternal speech influences newborns perception of speech sounds. Infant Behavior and Development, 9, 133-150.
  • Voted one of top 20 child psychology studies in survey of membership of Society for Research in Child Development. See Dixon, W. (2003). Twenty studies that fascinated child psychology, Developments, Newsletter of the Society for Research in Child Development, 46, 4-5.
Awards and Fellowships:
  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science

News Articles

Conference to Emphasize Undergraduate Psychology Research
Undergraduate psychology majors will get a chance to display their research accomplishments at an upcoming conference sponsored by UT Dallas and other area universities.

The North Texas Undergraduate Psychology Conference will take place on UT Dallas’ main campus in Richardson, but it represents a joint effort by psychology departments at Southern Methodist University, Texas Woman’s University and The University of Texas at Arlington, as well as UT Dallas. The conference was funded in part by a grant from Psi Chi, the international psychology honor society, to UT Dallas’ newly established chapter.

Funding

Mother-Infant Vocal Interaction and Infants' Comprehension of Vocal and Facial Emotional Expressions
$20,000 - Timberlawn Psychiatric Foundation [2010–2012]
Infants' comprehension of affect in infant-directed speech: Does the melody convey the message?
$17,515 - Timberlawn Psychiatric Research Foundation Grant [2002–2004]
Human Development Laboratories: Funding for equipment in new School of Human Development Research and Clinical Building
$150,000 - University of Texas System Permanent University Fund [2001–2001]
Callier Scholar Award: Callier Center for Communication Disorders
$5000 - School of Human Development [2000–2001]
Research & Assessment of Infant Auditory Perception
$10,876 - Callier Excellence in Education Fund [1999–2001]