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 understand words before they can talk. Currently, I am focused on the role of caregivers' resources and beliefs about infants, and separately, on the role of infants' developing motor exploration abilities. In related collaborations, I am working with Dr. Amanda Seidl and Dr. Alejandrina Cristia to examine how caregivers coordinate speech and touch and how infants might use this information to find and learn words. I am also involved in an NSF grant-funded project with Dr. Rochelle Newman, Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, and Dr. Kris Onishi to examine differences in language processing in infants learning one language compared to infants learning two languages.

Bucknell undergraduates collaborate with me on this research to recruit families from the local community, collect data, analyze and summarize the results in APA-style reports, and present their research at campus, regional, and national conferences. Bucknell Baby Lab training also includes topics in infant development and language development, professional skills development, improving self-assessment abilities, effective collaboration, professional ethics, active listening skills when communicating with parents, community outreach, and technical skills.

Our research has been featured in the media:
Baby Talk, Bucknell alumni magazine
How much do babies understand?, Daily Item local newspaper
Are babies like eggplants?, Huffington Post Parents Blog

Local families who want to help us learn more about babies can fill in this form, call 570-577-1787, or email More information is on our website,, and our Facebook Page.

Students interested in research experience should contact Prof. Tincoff for information and an application.

Courses Taught

  • Introductory Psychology
  • Cognition
  • Developmental Psychology (participant-observation at Sunflower Child Care)
  • Language Development
  • Infancy (community-based learning on home nurse visits with Nurse-Family Partnership)

I regularly supervise students in Psyc229 Directed Study and Psyc329 Independent Study. Well-prepared and particularly self-motivated students might be interested in Psyc360 Honor Thesis.

Selected Publications

Seidl, A., Tincoff, R., Baker, C., & Cristia, A. (2014). Why the body comes first: Effects of experimenter touch on infants' word finding. Developmental Science. doi: 10.1111/desc.12182

Tincoff, R. & Jusczyk, P.W. (2012). Six-month-olds comprehend words that refer to parts of the body. Infancy, 17(4), 432-444. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7078.2011.00084.x

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. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2005.00390.x

Tincoff, R. & Jusczyk, P. W. (1999). Some beginnings of word comprehension in six-month-olds. Psychological Science, 10, 172-175. doi: 10.1111/1467-9280.00127. Reprinted in D. Muir & A. Slater (Eds.), Infant development: The essential readings (pp. 270-278). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers, 2000.

Recent Conference Presentations

(*Bucknell student collaborators)

Soderstrom, M., Aslin, R. N., Tincoff, R. J., Frank, M. C., & Tsuji, S. (March, 2015). Improving and standardizing infant speech perception methods: Can and should it be done? Conversation Roundtable at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, Philadelphia, PA.

*Buckley, L., Tincoff, R., Seidl, A., & Cristia, A. (March, 2015). Infants' responses to caregiver talk and touch during a word game. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Tincoff, R., *Slaboden, A., & *Schindelheim, S. (October, 2013). Parent-toddler interactions during motor play: Implications for developing verb comprehension. Poster presented at the Eighth Biennial meeting of the Cognitive Development Society, Memphis, TN.

*Snider, M., Tincoff, R., *Gates, B., & *Rambo, L. (May, 2013). Six-month-olds' comprehension of words referring to objects and events. Poster presented at the Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, DC.


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