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

Spence, M. J. (1991). Newborns' responsiveness to contingent stimulation: Implications for early intervention. Infant-Toddler Intervention, 1, 245-253. 1991 - Publication
DeCasper, A. J. & Spence, M. J. (1991). Auditorily-mediated behavior during the perinatal period: A cognitive view. In M. Weiss & P. Zelazo (Eds.) Newborn Attention: Biological Constraints and the Influence of Experience (pp. 142-176). Norwood, N.J.: Ablex. 1991 - Publication
DeCasper, A. J. & Spence, M. J. (1987). Prenatal maternal speech influences newborns perception of speech sounds. In S. Chess, A. Thomas, & M. Hertzig (Eds.), Annual Progress in Child Psychiatry and Development, (pp. 5-25). Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazel, Inc. 1987 - Publication
Spence, M. J. & DeCasper, A. J. (1987). Prenatal experience with low-frequency maternal voice sounds influences neonatal perception of maternal voice samples. Infant Behavior and Development, 10, 133-142. 1987 - Publication
DeCasper, A. J. & Spence, M. J. (1986). Prenatal maternal speech influences newborns' perception of speech sounds. Infant Behavior and Development, 9, 133-150. 1986 - Publication
Spence, M. J. & DeCasper, A. J. (1986). Prenatal experience with low-frequency maternal voice sounds influences newborns perception of female voices. Poster presented at International Conference on Infant Studies, Los Angeles, CA. 1986 - Publication
Spence, M. J. & DeCasper, A. J. (1984). Prenatal maternal speech influences human newborns auditory preferences. Paper presented at the North Carolina Acoustical Society, Tanglewood, N.C. 1984 - Publication
Winograd, E., Kerr, N. H. & Spence, M. J. (1984). Voice recognition: Effects of orienting task and a test of blind versus sighted listeners. American Journal of Psychology, 97, 57-70. 1984 - Publication
Spence, M. J. & DeCasper, A. J. (1982). Human fetuses perceive maternal speech. Paper presented at International Conference on Infant Studies, Austin, TX. 1982 - Publication
Spence, M. J. & Geis, M. F. (1981). Childrens preferences for semantic attributes of words and effects of preferences on episodic recall. Paper presented at the meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Boston, MA. 1981 - 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

Children's memory and suggestibility for a real-life and video event
2002–2002 Thierry, K. L, & Spence, M. J., Poster accepted for presentation at the American Psychology-Law Society, Austin, TX.
Effects of voice familiarity on four-month-old infants' abilities to categorize
2004–2004 Sokolsky, J. F. & Spence, M. J., Poster presented at Llano Estacado Psychology Conference, Lubbock, TX.
The influence of social context on 4-month-olds' categorization of infant-directed speech
2006–2006 Kuhlman-Atchison, K. & Spence, M. J., Poster presented at the Society for Human Development Research, Fort Worth, TX.
Source monitoring facilitates preschoolers' memory performance
2001–2001 Thierry, K. L. & Spence, M. J., Paper presented at Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Minneapolis, MN.
The impact of faces on infants' categorization of infant-directed speech
2008–2008 Atchison, K. K., Spence, M. J., & Touchstone, E. W., In M. Goldstein (Chair), New functions of Infant-directed speech: Evidence from word learning and categorization. Symposium conducted at the International Conference on Infant Studies, Vancouver, BC.

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]