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Joe Toscano

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Director, Cognitive Science Program
Villanova University

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.

Contact Info

Phone: 610-519-4755
Office: M52 Tolentine Hall
Lab: 231 Tolentine Hall

Education and Academic Positions


My research focuses on questions about speech and language processing:

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 lab website.

Recent Publications

Full list on lab website and Google Scholar profile. Talks/presentations on lab website.



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:

  1. Emily L. Martinez (M.S., 2020), "Subphonemic sensitivity of the covert speech efference copy: Implications for understanding auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia" [pdf]
  2. Andrea Ruggiero (M.S., 2020), "Effects of visual speaking rate information on speech perception" [pdf]
  3. Agnes Gao (M.S., 2019), "Contextual effects on low-level speech perception" [pdf]
  4. Abigail Benecke (M.S., 2018), "Redundancy and variability in speech: Listeners' use of token-Level phonetic cues" [pdf]
  5. Sofía Cordero (M.S., 2018, Software Engineering), "Applying neural nets to EEG data for hearing loss detection" (co-supervised with Dr. Edward Kim)   [pdf]
  6. Emma Folk (M.S., 2017), "Parallel vs. serial processing in language comprehension" [pdf]
  7. Benjamin Falandays (M.S., 2017), "How long can listeners maintain gradient acoustic information?" [pdf]
  8. David Saltzman (M.S., 2016), "The role of the speech envelope in speaking rate compensation" [pdf]
  9. Tifani Biro (M.S., 2016), "Enhancing tools for measuring phonetic convergence" [pdf]

Master's students who completed substantial research projects or published work from our lab other than their thesis:

  1. Courtney Thomas, "Cortical measures of speech sound encoding and effects of hearing loss"
  2. Elke Nordeen and Sarah Vrabic, "Modeling the development of audiovisual cue integration in speech perception" [pdf]
  3. Alexandra Tabachnick, "Perceptual encoding in auditory brainstem responses: Effects of stimulus frequency" [pdf]
  4. Olivia Pereira, "Perceptual encoding of natural speech sounds revealed by the N1 event-related potential response" [pdf]
  5. Taylor Curley, "Statistical learning of English vowel categories"

Prospective Students

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 perception.