Lara Pierce

Assistant Professor

Locations / Contact Info:

Behavioural Science - BSB
Keele Campus

Email address(es):

Web site(s):

Pierce Experience & Development Lab

Faculty & School/Dept.

Faculty of Health - Department of Psychology


PhD - 2015
McGill University

BSc - 2007
University of Victoria


Lara Pierce (she/her) is the director of the Pierce Experience & Development Lab and an Assistant Professor of Psychology at York University. She received her Ph.D. from McGill University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School. Lara uses developmental cognitive neuroscience tools to explore how variation in the early environment impacts the development of neural systems. She uses language as a model system, and identifies mechanisms by which specific variables (e.g., those associated with socioeconomic variation and early life stress) shape both early neurodevelopment and the early language environment. She also investigates the role that individual differences (both environmental and physiological) play in the development of language and cognitive abilities and aims to uncover how early neurodevelopmental variation contributes to later learning. She uses tools such as electroencephalography (EEG/ERP), language recordings, and behavioural assessments in infants and children to address these questions. 

Selected Publications

please see for a complete list

Elansary, M., Pierce, L.J., Wei, W., Charles McCoy, D., Zuckerman, B., & Nelson, C.A. (accepted). Maternal stress and early neurodevelopment: exploring the protective role of maternal growth mindset. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Pierce, L.J., Tague, E.C., & Nelson, C.A. (2021). Maternal stress predicts neural responses during auditory statistical learning in 26-month-old children: An event-related potential study. Cognition, 104600.

Pierce, L.J., Reilly, E., & Nelson, C.A. (2021). Associations between maternal stress, early language behaviors, and infant electroencephalography during the first year of life. Journal of Child Language, 48(4), 737-764.

Valdes, V., Pierce, L.J., Lane, C.J., Reilly, E., Jensen, S.K.G., Gharib, A., Levitt, P., Nelson, C.A., & Thompson, B.L. (2020). An exploratory study of predictors of cognition in two low-income samples of infants across the first year of life. PLoS One, 15(9), e0238507.

Pierce, L.J., Thompson, B.L., Gharib, A., Schlueter, L., Reilly, E., Valdes, V., Roberts, S., Conroy, K., Levitt, P., Nelson, C.A. (2019). Association of Perceived Maternal Stress during the Perinatal Period and EEG in 2-month-old Infants. JAMA Pediatrics, 173(6), 561-570.

Pierce, L.J., Genesee, F., Delcenserie, A., & Morgan, G. (2017). Towards a model of multiple paths to language learning: Response to commentaries. Applied Psycholinguistics, 38(6), 1351-1362.

Pierce, L. J., Genesee, F., Delcenserie, A., & Morgan, G. (2017). Variations in phonological working memory: Linking early experiences and language learning outcomes. Applied Psycholinguistics, 38(6), 1265-1300.

Pierce, L. J., Chen, J-K., Delcenserie, A., Genesee, F. & Klein, D. (2015). Past experience shapes ongoing neural patterns for language. Nature Communications, 6, 10073.

Pierce, L. J., Klein, D., Chen, J. K., Delcenserie, A., & Genesee, F. (2014). Mapping the unconscious maintenance of a lost first language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(48), 17314-1731.


NSERC Discovery Grant: Early life stress and socioeconomic variation as determinants of language related neurodevelopment - 2021


Currently available to supervise graduate students: Yes

Currently taking on work-study students, Graduate Assistants or Volunteers: Yes

Available to supervise undergraduate thesis projects: Yes