Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Director, Cognitive Science Program
I'm an Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Villanova University, where I direct the Cognitive Science Program and the Word Recognition and Auditory Perception (WRAP) Lab. Our group studies speech perception, hearing, and language processing, using a combination of computational, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioral techniques. I teach graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science, including a laboratory course on speech perception for non-science majors.
Office: M52 Tolentine Hall
Lab: 231 Tolentine Hall
Education and Academic Positions
- Director (2020-present), Cognitive Science Program, Villanova University
- Assistant Professor (2014-present), Dept. of Psychological
and Brain Sciences, Villanova University
- Postdoctoral Fellow (2011-2014), Beckman Institute for Advanced
Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
(Collaborators: Susan Garnsey, Jont Allen, Duane Watson, Sarah
Brown-Schmidt, Charissa Lansing, Monica Fabiani, Gabriele Gratton)
- Ph.D., Psychology—Cognition and Perception (2005-2011),
University of Iowa (Advisor: Bob McMurray)
- B.S., Brain and Cognitive Sciences (2001-2005), University of
Rochester (Advisor: Mike Tanenhaus)
My research focuses on questions about speech and language processing:
- How do human listeners recognize speech accurately despite variability
in the acoustic signal?
- How does this ability emerge over development, and how malleable is it in adulthood?
- How can we develop speech-based tests to measure hearing loss using behavioral
and/or neural responses?
To answer these questions, we use techniques that allow us to study spoken
word recognition as it happens. These include cognitive neuroscience methods
(ERP and optical neuroimaging techniques) that capture early perceptual
processes and eye-tracking approaches that measure lexical activation as the
speech signal unfolds. We use these data to inform computational models of
speech perception that address questions about unsupervised statistical learning and speech development.
For more information, check out our
Full list on lab website and Google Scholar profile. Talks/presentations on lab website.
- Getz LM, Toscano JC (in press). Rethinking the McGurk effect as a perceptual illusion. To appear in Attention, Perception & Psychophysics.
- Getz LM, Toscano JC (2021). The time-course of speech perception revealed by temporally-sensitive neural measures. WIREs Cognitive Science, 12, e1541. [pdf]
- Toscano JC, Toscano CM (2021). Effects of face masks on speech recognition in multi-talker babble noise. PLOS ONE, 16, e0246842. [pdf]
- Crinnion AM, Malmskog B, Toscano JC (2020). A graph theoretic approach to identifying acoustic cues for speech sound categorization. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 27, 1104-1125. [pdf]
- Falandays JB, Brown-Schmidt S, Toscano JC (2020). Long-lasting gradient activation of referents during spoken language processing. Journal of Memory and Language, 112, 104088. [pdf]
- Getz LM, Toscano JC (2019). Electrophysiological evidence for top-down lexical influences on early speech perception. Psychological Science, 30, 830-841. [pdf]
- Toscano JC, Lansing C (2019). Age-Related changes in temporal and spectral cue weights in speech. Language and Speech, 62, 61-79. [pdf]
- Gao YA, Toscano JC, Shih C, Tanner D (2019). Reassessing the electrophysiological evidence for categorical perception of Mandarin lexical tone: ERP evidence from native and naïve non-native Mandarin listeners. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 81, 543-557. [pdf]
- Pereira O, Gao YA, Toscano JC (2018). Perceptual encoding of natural speech sounds revealed by the N1 event-related potential response. Auditory Perception & Cognition, 1, 112-130. [pdf]
- Tabachnick AR, Toscano JC (2018). Perceptual encoding in auditory brainstem responses: Effects of stimulus frequency. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 61, 2364-2375. [pdf]
- Toscano JC, Anderson ND, Fabiani M, Gratton G, Garnsey SM (2018). The time-course of cortical responses to speech revealed by fast optical imaging. Brain and Language, 184, 32-42. [pdf]
- Buxó-Lugo A, Toscano JC, Watson DG (2018). Effects of participant engagement on prosodic prominence. Discourse Processes, 55, 305-323. [pdf]
I've had the privilege of working with a number of outstanding
students in my lab. The following students completed their M.S. theses in our lab:
- Emily L. Martinez (M.S., 2020), "Subphonemic sensitivity of the covert speech efference copy: Implications for understanding auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia" [pdf]
- Andrea Ruggiero (M.S., 2020), "Effects of visual speaking rate information on speech perception" [pdf]
- Agnes Gao (M.S., 2019), "Contextual effects on low-level speech perception" [pdf]
- Abigail Benecke (M.S., 2018), "Redundancy and variability in speech: Listeners' use of token-Level phonetic cues"
- Sofía Cordero (M.S., 2018, Software Engineering), "Applying neural nets to EEG data for hearing loss detection" (co-supervised with Dr. Edward Kim)
- Emma Folk (M.S., 2017), "Parallel vs. serial processing in language comprehension"
- Benjamin Falandays (M.S., 2017), "How long can listeners maintain gradient acoustic information?"
- David Saltzman (M.S., 2016), "The role of the speech envelope in speaking rate compensation"
- Tifani Biro (M.S., 2016), "Enhancing tools for measuring phonetic convergence"
Master's students who completed substantial research projects or published work from our lab other than their thesis:
- Courtney Thomas, "Cortical measures of speech sound encoding and effects of hearing loss"
- Elke Nordeen and Sarah Vrabic, "Modeling the development of audiovisual cue integration in speech perception" [pdf]
- Alexandra Tabachnick, "Perceptual encoding in auditory brainstem responses: Effects of stimulus frequency" [pdf]
- Olivia Pereira, "Perceptual encoding of natural speech sounds revealed by the N1 event-related potential response" [pdf]
- Taylor Curley, "Statistical learning of English vowel categories"
Interested in doing postdoctoral work in the lab or applying to our department's M.S. program? Send me an email to find out more!
Current Villanova undergraduate? Our lab is always looking for good Psychology and Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience majors (and other majors!) who want to learn more about perception and language. Click here to find out more about undergraduate research positions in the lab.
I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in the Psychology, CBN, and Cognitive Science programs at Villanova. I also teach a Mendel Science
Experience (MSE) course in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences called
Sounds of Human Language. The course provides non-science majors with a
background in the techniques and approaches used in the natural sciences. We
study this through the lens of spoken language, exploring the acoustic
properties of speech sounds and the mechanisms underlying speech