Joe Toscano

Joe Toscano

Postdoctoral Fellow
Beckman Institute

University of Illinois
405 N Mathews Ave
Urbana, IL 61801

Phone: 217-300-6716
Fax: 217-333-2922
Email: jtoscano@
Twitter: @joetosc

Office: 5225 Beckman


Please note: I will be moving to Villanova University to start a faculty position in the Psychology Department this fall. Website is under construction in the meantime!

My name is Joe Toscano, and I'm a Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I'm originally from Rochester, NY and received my BS in Brain & Cognitive Sciences from the University of Rochester. I received my PhD in Cognition and Perception from the Dept. of Psychology at the University of Iowa where I worked with Prof. Bob McMurray.

My research focuses on speech perception and spoken word recognition and examines several questions about these processes: How do listeners map sounds onto words? How do they deal with variability across different contexts? How do they combine multiple acoustic cues? How do they learn to do all of this?

To answer these questions, I use several approaches to examine the time-course of speech processing as it unfolds: event-related brain potentials that give us measures of perceptual encoding and categorization, and eye-movements that tell us about lexical activation. These experiments support several computational models (recurrent neural networks and statistical models) that describe how speech is learned and processed.

Thanks for visiting! — Joe Toscano



Follow the links below to read more about my current research.


Published and in press journal articles, chapters, and other manuscripts. Please contact me if you are unable to access any of these papers.

Toscano, J.C., Buxó-Lugo, A., & Watson, D.G. (forthcoming). Using game-based approaches to increase level of engagement in research and education. In S. Dikkers (Ed.), TeacherCraft: Using Minecraft for Teaching and Learning. Pittsburgh: ETC Press.

Toscano, J.C., Anderson, N.D., & McMurray, B. (2013). Reconsidering the role of temporal order in spoken word recognition. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 20. 981-987.

Toscano, J.C., & McMurray, B. (2012). Cue-integration and context effects in speech: Evidence against speaking-rate normalization. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 74, 1284-1301.   [PubMed Central]

Toscano, J.C. (2011). Perceiving speech in context: Compensation for contextual variability at the level of acoustic cue encoding and categorization. Doctoral dissertation, University of Iowa.

Toscano, J.C., McMurray, B., Dennhardt, J., & Luck, S.J. (2010). Continuous perception and graded categorization: Electrophysiological evidence for a linear relationship between the acoustic signal and perceptual encoding of speech. Psychological Science, 21, 1532-1540.   [PubMed Central]

Toscano, J.C., & McMurray, B. (2010). Cue integration with categories: Weighting acoustic cues in speech using unsupervised learning and distributional statistics. Cognitive Science, 34, 434-464.   [PubMed Central]

Toscano, J.C., Mueller, K.L, McMurray, B., & Tomblin, J.B. (2010). Simulating individual differences in language ability and genetic differences in FOXP2 using a neural network model of the SRT task. In S. Ohlsson & R. Catrambone, Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2230-2235). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

McMurray, B., Aslin, R.N., & Toscano, J.C. (2009). Statistical learning of phonetic categories: Insights from a computational approach. Developmental Science, 12, 369-378.   [PubMed Central]

McMurray, B., Horst, J., Toscano, J.C., & Samuelson, L.K. (2009). Towards an integration of connectionist learning and dynamical systems processing: Case studies in speech and lexical development. In J.P. Spencer, M. Thomas, & J. McClelland (Eds.), Toward a Unified Theory of Development: Connectionism and Dynamic Systems Theory Re-Considered. New York: Oxford University Press.

Toscano, J.C. & McMurray, B. (2008). Using the distributional statistics of speech sounds for weighting and integrating acoustic cues. In B.C. Love, K. McRae, & V.M. Sloutsky (Eds.), Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 433-438). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Toscano, J.C., Perry, L.K., Mueller, K.L., Bean, A.F., Galle, M.E., & Samuelson, L.K. (2008). Language as shaped by the brain; the brain as shaped by development. Commentary on Christiansen & Chater, “Language as shaped by the brain”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 31, 535-536.   [Local copy]

Toscano, J.C. (2005). Effect of object salience on eye movements in a visual-linguistic task. Honors thesis in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester.

Toscano, J.C., & Beutter, B.R. (2005). Performance during visual search: Designing spacecraft with humans in mind. University of Rochester Journal of Undergraduate Research, 3, 8-12.

Toscano, J.C. (2004). Effect of salience on saccadic performance during visual search. Technical report for NASA Undergraduate Student Research Program.



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