image of norman e spear


Distinguished Professor of Psychology

Phone: 607-777-2663

Research Interests

Developmental changes in learning and memory, particularly during infancy; infantile amnesia; effect of alcohol, including prenatal alcohol, on learning and memory during development; consequences of early experience for responsiveness to alcohol.

Contact Information

Contact Norman E. Spear, S4, 261, any afternoon.

Types of Research Experiences Available

A primary goal of our NIMH project is to undertand infantile amnesia in terms of infantile modes of encoding for learning that might be especially conducive to forgetting. Recent emphasis has been on memory for learning that occurs prenatally (by the fetus) and immediately after birth. Research experiences may include implementation of procedures for inducing learning in the fetus and newborn as well as testing of neonatal, infant and adolescent rats to assess what is learned and forgotten. Additional experiences could be implementation of circumstances that promote memory retrieval and alleviate forgetting. The primary goal of our NIAAA project is to understand early experiences, prenatal and postnatal, that alter responsiveness to alcohol in adolescence. Research experiences available for this project include the administration of alcohol to the fetus (indirectly) or infant (primarily through intragastric administration) and to test the subsequent consequences of this. These tests include assessment of alcohol intake, body temperature, blood and brain alcohol, and a variety of behaviors including those that reflect learning and memory.


PSYC 220 and 356 and 357 (Learning and Learning Lab) are helpful but not necessary; students should be in their sophomore or junior year.

Last Updated: 1/16/17