Charles A. Nelson

Charles Nelson


  • Fellow
  • Child & Brain Development


  • Harvard University
Harvard Medical School, Department of Pediatrics and Harvard Graduate School of Education


  • United States


PhD (Developmental Psychology), University of Kansas
MS (Educational Psychology and Psychology), University of Wisconsin
BA (Psychology), McGill University


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.
Bloom, F.E., C.A. Nelson, and A. Lazerson. Brain, Mind, and Behavior. 3rd ed. New York: Worth Publishing, 2001.
Nelson, C.A. "The ontogeny of human memory: A cognitive neuroscience perspective." Dev. Psychol. 31 (1995): 723–38.