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Joseph Toscano, PhD - Villanova University. Villanova, PA, US

Joseph Toscano, PhD

Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences; Director, Cognitive Science Program | College of Liberal Arts and Sciences | Villanova University


Joseph Toscano, PhD, is an expert in human speech recognition and language comprehension through the study of brain and behavior.






Laurel or Yanny? (May 2018)



Areas of Expertise (10)


Cognitive Psychology

Perception and Language

Speech Communication

Language Development

Hearing Loss

Speech recognition


Cognitive Neuroscience

Neural Networks


Understanding how humans perceive speech and comprehend language through the study of brain and behavior is the focus of Dr. Toscano’s research. He uses several lab methods (cognitive neuroscience, behavioral experiments, and computational models) to address questions about the neurobiology of language, to study the processes involved in speech development, and to build computer systems that learn to recognize speech the same way that humans do. Dr. Toscano is also working to develop tests that can be used to better assess hearing loss by measuring both brain responses and behavior. He directs the Word Recognition and Auditory Perception Lab at Villanova.

Education (3)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Iowa: PhD

University of Rochester: BS

Select Accomplishments (3)

Select-Speaker Award (professional)

2014 Psychonomic Society

Beckman Fellowship (professional)

2011 Beckman Institute for Advanced Science & Technology

Computational Modeling Prize in Perception and Action (professional)

2008 Cognitive Science Society

Affiliations (3)

  • Psychonomic Society
  • Cognitive Science Society
  • Acoustical Society of America

Select Media Appearances (2)

What's Up With All These Viral Illusions?

The New Yorker  


Am I experiencing a hundred micro-yannys and laurels every day without knowing it? Joe Toscano, who studies auditory perception at Villanova University, couldn’t answer that question, perhaps because he, like everyone, is trapped in the prison of his own mind, unable to know for sure what is real outside of it. But he did say he thinks it’s more remarkable that people don’t get this confused over speech all the time.

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The White and Gold (No, Blue and Black!) Dress That Melted the Internet

The New York Times  


The mother of the bride wore white and gold. Or was it blue and black? From a photograph of the dress the bride posted online, there was broad disagreement. ... Joseph Toscano, an assistant professor in the Villanova University Department of Psychology and an expert in illusions, said the image seems to be a type of reversible figure, or a figure that can be interpreted in two different ways.

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Select Academic Articles (5)

Gradient acoustic information induces long-lasting referential uncertainty in short discourses

Language, Cognition and Neuroscience

Sarah Brown-Schmidt, Joseph C Toscano


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Modeling the Development of Audiovisual Cue Integration in Speech Perception

Brain Sciences

Laura M Getz, Elke R Nordeen, Sarah C Vrabic, Joseph C Toscano


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Effects of participant engagement on prosodic prominence

Discourse Processes

Andrés Buxó-Lugo, Joseph C Toscano, Duane G Watson


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The time-course of speaking rate compensation: Effects of sentential rate and vowel length on voicing judgments

Language, Cognition and Neuroscience

Joseph C. Toscano, Bob McMurray


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Across-and within-consonant errors for isolated syllables in noise

Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research

Joseph C. Toscano, John J.B. Allen


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