My name is Joe Toscano, and I'm an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Villanova University. I’m originally from snowy Rochester, NY and received my B.S. in Brain & Cognitive Sciences from the University of Rochester where I worked with Mike Tanenhaus. I then began a 9-year journey to the Midwest where I received my Ph.D. in Cognition and Perception from the Department of Psychology at the University of Iowa, working with Bob McMurray. After grad school, I spent three years in Champaign-Urbana as a Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois, where I had the opportunity to work with researchers in a number of fields: Susan Garnsey, Duane Watson, Sarah Brown-Schmidt, Jont Allen, Charissa Lansing, Monica Fabiani, and Gabriele Gratton (among others!). Now I'm back in the Northeast, where I joined the faculty in Psychology at Villanova in 2014.
My research focuses on questions about auditory perception and spoken language comprehension. How are we able to recognize speech so accurately, yet we struggle to build computer systems that can understand speech as well as we can? How does the ability to understand language emerge over development, and how malleable is this ability in adulthood? How do listeners adapt to accented speech, understand talkers they have never encountered before, and cope with large amounts of background noise? What can we do to improve speech recognition for listeners who use assistive devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants?
To answer these questions, I use a number of techniques that allow us to study spoken word recognition as it happens. These include cognitive neuroscience methods (electrophysiological and optical neuroimaging techniques) that tell us what information in the speech signal listeners have access to at early stages of perception. I also use eye-tracking approaches with the visual-world paradigm to study lexical activation as the speech signal unfolds. These data help to inform models of speech perception, which allow us to ask questions about the limits of unsupervised statistical learning and to understand how listeners weight acoustic cues in speech.
More about my research can be found below. A list of publications, my CV, and calendar are also available here. Feel free to send me an email (joseph.toscano at villanova.edu) if you'd like to get in touch with me.
Thanks for visiting! — Joe Toscano
Follow the links below to read more about my current research.