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Charles A. Nelson


  • Fellow
  • Child & Brain Development


Charles Nelson is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist. Over the last two decades, his research has focused on the development and neural bases of memory; recognition and processing of objects, faces, and emotion; and neural plasticity.

He has a particular interest in how early experience influences the course of development. In this context he is currently overseeing a very large, longitudinal project in Bucharest, Romania, focused on children experiencing profound neglect, and in Dhaka, Bangladesh, focused on children exposed to profound adversity.


  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center fellowship
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Fellow of the American Psychological Association
  • Fellow of the American Psychological Society

Relevant Publications

  • Berens, A., and C.A. Nelson. "The science of early adversity: Is there a role for large institutions in the care of vulnerable children?" Lancet 386 (July 2015): 388–98.
  • Nelson, C.A., N.A. Fox, and C.H. Zeanah. Romania’s Abandoned Children: Deprivation, Brain Development and the Struggle for Recovery. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014.
  • Leppanen, J.M., and C.A. Nelson. "Tuning the developing brain to social signals of emotion." Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 10, no. 1 (2009): 37–47.
  • Pascalis, O. et al. "Is face processing species specific during the first year of life?” Science 296 (2002): 1321–1323.
  • Nelson, C.A. "Cognitive recovery in socially deprived young children: The Bucharest Early Intervention Project." Science, 318 (2007): 1937–1940.
  • Nelson, C.A., M. de Haan, and K.M. Thomas. Neuroscience and Cognitive Development: The Role of Experience and the Developing Brain. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2006.

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