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University of Iowa News Release

May 15, 2003

Psychology Professor Wins Early Career Award For Memory Research

John Spencer, an assistant professor of psychology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been awarded the Society for Research in Child Development Award for Early Research Contributions. Spencer, who studies spatial working memory, was recognized for his groundbreaking research using both computer modeling and behavioral studies.

Spatial working memory involves actively maintaining information in the brain about where things are located. It allows us to remember where we left the car keys, where the couch is relative to the coffee table, and how to get to the grocery story, the library, the bank, and anywhere else on a list of errands.

Using computer models and studying human behavior, from infants to adults, Spencer is formulating a theory of how spatial working memory develops. The Society for Research in Child Development noted this dual research track in recognizing Spencer for "building connections between cognitive development and cognitive science through his sophisticated use of computational and behavioral approaches to the study of cognitive development."

The society's citation also noted Spencer's work in "developing a dynamic systems model of spatial cognition from infancy to adulthood."

Spencer's award adds to a string of more than a dozen early-career awards for psychology faculty in the last seven years.

The Society for Research in Child Development is a multidisciplinary, not-for-profit, professional association that works to promote multidisciplinary research in the field of human development, to foster the exchange of information among scientists and other professionals of various disciplines, and to encourage applications of research findings.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,