John Spencer


  • 0.09 Lawrence Stenhouse Building

  • Source: Scopus
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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

Bhat, A., Spencer, J.P. & Samuelson, L.K. (in press). Word-object learning via visual exploration in space (WOLVES): A neural process model of cross-situational word learning. Psychological Review.

Jenkins, G.W., Samuelson, L.K., Penny, W. & Spencer, J.P. (2021). Learning words in space and time: Contrasting models of the suspicious coincidence effect. Cognition, 210,

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,

Spencer, J.P. (2020). The development of working memory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, doi/10.1177/0963721420959835.

For a full publication list please visit ORCID or ResearchGate 

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. 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

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