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Lauri Kurdziel

Assistant Professor, Psychology

Lauri Kurdziel’s area of research focuses on the effects of sleep on cognitive function in children. Prior to joining Merrimack College, she taught at Hampshire College and Mount Holyoke College.  


B.S., Zoology, University of Maryland College Park
M.S., Animal Behavior, Bucknell University
Ph.D., Neuroscience and Behavior, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


PSY 3150: Behavioral Neuroscience

Professional Experience

My research explores how sleep physiology changes throughout development and across the lifespan, and how this relates to changes in behavior, cognition, learning and memory consolidation. I primarily focus on the role of sleep physiology on early childhood development: Can changes in sleep physiology predict developmental milestones? Why do young children nap? When should children transition from two naps to one, or to stop napping altogether? What is the role of napping within the preschool classroom? Lastly, I aim to promote healthy sleep habits throughout the lifespan; for the college students out there, that means saying no to the all-nighter!


Selected Publications and Conference Proceedings

Cremone, A., de Jong, D.M., Kurdziel, L.B.F., Desrochers, P., Sayer, A., LeBourgeois, M., McDermott, J.M, & Spencer, R.M.C. (in prep). Association between variability in sleep onset, child temperament, and externalizing behaviors in preschool-aged children

De Jong, D.M., Cremone, A., Kurdziel, L.B.F., Desrochers, P., LeBourgeois, M., Sayer, A., Ertel, K., Spencer, R.M.C. (in prep). Influence of maternal depressive symptoms and household income on preschoolers’ sleep. Jones, B., Kurdziel, L.B.F., Spencer, R. M. C. (in prep). Sleep dependent memory consolidation across the human lifespan.

Kurdziel, L.B.F., Spencer, R. M. C. (submitted). Napping and emotional memory in preschool children: The benefits are worth the wait. Cremone, A., Kurdziel, L.B.F., Fraticelli, A., Spencer, R. M. C., McDermott, J. (submitted). Effect of napping on emotional reactivity and emotionally guided attention mechanisms in preschool aged children.

Desrochers, P., Kurdziel, L.B.F., Spencer, R. M. C. (under revision). Benefits of a nap on procedural memory consolidation in preschool children manifest 24-hours after learning. Kurdziel, L.B.F., Long, B., & Spencer, R. M. C. (2015). Sleep-related changes of novel word learning in native English speakers. Memory.

Kurdziel, L.B.F., Dempsey, K., Zahara, M., Valera, E. & Spencer, R.M.C. (2015). Impaired visuomotor adaptation in adults with ADHD and ADHD-like symptoms. Experimental Brain Research.

Sonni, A., Kurdziel, L.B.F., Baran, B., & Spencer, R. M. C. (2014). The effects of sleep dysfunction on cognition, affect, and quality of life in individuals with cerebellar ataxia. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 10, 5, 535 – 543.

Kurdziel, L.B., Duclos, K., & Spencer, R.M.C. (2013). Learning benefits from classroom naps in preschools. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110, 43, 17267 – 17272.

Notable Press: ABC News, HealthDay, ScienceNOW, CBS News, Washington Post, USA Today, The Guardian, Boston Globe, Voice of America, US News & World Report, BBC News, NEPR, among others.



O’Reilly 108