Melanie Spence

Melanie J. Spence


  • infant-directed speech
  • prosodic properties of speech
  • face perception
  • memory development
  • perceptual development


Emily Martinez

Expert at a Glance

Melanie J. Spence, Ph.D. School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences


Dr. Spence’s research examines young infants’ processing of voices, speech and faces.

Her recent research has explored discrimination of positive and negative facial emotions in young infants and whether infants are more likely to recognize emotional expressions on moving faces than on static faces.

Her research has also investigated young infants’ categorization of infant-directed speech produced to convey different emotional messages. This research suggests that infants are learning to differentiate approving and comforting utterances between four and six months of age.

Previous research has examined newborn infants’ differentiation of the maternal from a nonmaternal female voice and the role of perinatal voice and speech experience in early perceptual abilities.

She received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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Updated: November 29, 2011