John Spencer


  • 0.09 Lawrence Stenhouse Building

  • Source: Scopus
  • Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile


John P. Spencer is a Professor of Psychology. He joined the School in 2015. Prior to arriving in the UK, he was a Professor at the University of Iowa and served as the founding Director of the DeLTA Center. He received a Sc.B. with Honors from Brown University in 1991 and a Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1998. He is the recipient of the 2003 Early Research Contributions Award from the Society for Research in Child Development, and the 2006 Robert L. Fantz Memorial Award from the American Psychological Foundation. His research has been continuously funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health since 2001. His research focuses on the development of executive function including working memory, attention, and inhibitory control. He is also a pioneer in the use of dynamical systems and dynamic neural field models for understanding cognition and action.

Indicative Publications

Wijeakumar, S., Forbes, S.H., Magnotta, V.A., Deoni, S., Jackson, K., Singh, V.P., Tiwari, M., Kumar, A. & Spencer, J.P. (2023). Stunting in the first year of life is associated with atypical activation of dorsal and ventral working memory and attention networks. Nature Human Behaviour, 7, 2199-2211.

Spencer, J.P., Forbes, S., Naylor, S., Singh, V.P., Jackson, K., Deoni, S., Tiwari, M. & Kumar, A. (2023). Poor air quality is associated with impaired visual cognition in the first two years of life. eLife, 12:e83876.

Fibla, L., Forbes, S.H., McCarthy, J., Mee, K., Magnotta, V., Deoni, S., Cameron, D. & Spencer, J.P. (2023). Language exposure and brain myelination in early development. Journal of Neuroscience, 43(23), 4279-4290.

Bhat, A., Spencer, J.P. & Samuelson, L.K. (2021). Word-Object Learning via Visual Exploration in Space (WOLVES): A Neural Process Model of Cross-Situational Word Learning. Psychological Review,

Buss, A.T., Magnotta, V., Penny, W., Schoner, G., Huppert, T. & Spencer, J.P. (2021). How do neural processes give rise to cognition? Simultaneously predicting brain and behavior with a dynamic model of visual working memory. Psychological Review,

For a full publication list please visit Google Scholar or ORCID or ResearchGate 

You can download John Spencer's CV here

Key Research Interests

Prof. John Spencer’s research focuses on how neural and cognitive dynamics change over learning and development. He is currently studying developmental changes in working memory, attention, inhibitory control, executive function, word learning, and spatial cognition and language. He uses functional neuroimaging technologies including near-infrared spectroscopy and fMRI as well as eye-tracking.

You can visit the Developmental Dynamics Lab website here

Prof. Spencer’s research also targets advances in theory with pioneering work using concepts of dynamical systems theory and dynamic neural field models of cognition and action.

Visit the Dynamic Field Theory Website 

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or