Educational Background

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Cognitive Evolution Lab in the Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 2001-2004
  • Ph.D., Cognitive Developmental Psychology, Johns Hopkins University, 2001
  • M.A., Psychology, Johns Hopkins University, 2001
  • B.A., Honors Psychology and Linguistics Wayne State University, 1995

Research Interests

I investigate how infants identify words in spoken language and build a mental dictionary of sounds and meanings. Speech is continuous and it is our perceptual system that breaks the continuous sound stream into chunks of words, phrases, and individual sounds. Infants have robust perceptual mechanisms from birth that help them solve this problem and contribute to their language learning. Other mechanisms come on-line during their development and help them map the sound forms onto objects, events, and concepts. This specific problem connects to my more general interests in language, animal communication, infant development, and how we learn new information.

Courses Taught

  • Introductory Psychology
  • Cognition
  • Language Development

Selected Publications

Tincoff, R. (March 2007). Explaining word learning. Paper presented in the Roundtable Discussion Symposium, Evolutionary Perspectives on Parent-Child Relationships, at the 2007 Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, Boston, MA.

Tincoff, R. (March, 2006). Infants' attention to phonemic and nonphonemic word forms. Poster presented at the 2006 Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Baltimore, MD.

Tincoff, R., & Hauser, M. D. (2006). The cognitive basis of language evolution in nonhuman primates. In K. Brown (Editor-in-Chief) and M. Naguib (Section Editor), The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edition: Animal Communication. Elsevier Science, Ltd.

Tincoff, R., Hauser, M., Tsao, F., Spaepen, G., Ramus, F., & Mehler, J. (2005). The role of speech rhythm in language discrimination: Further tests with a nonhuman primate. Developmental Science, 8(1), 26-35.

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