Juan Manuel Toro

Juan Manuel Toro

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Social & Behavioural Sciences

I was born in Bogotá (Colombia) in 1976. I studied Psychology at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. In 2005, I got a PhD from the Universitat de Barcelona, and moved to work as a postdoc with Jacques Mehler at the Language and Cognitive Development lab at SISSA (Trieste, Italy). Later I was a research fellow under the Ramón y Cajal program. My studies are funded through competitive grants from public and private institutions including the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant), the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia, AGAUR and the Bial Foundation. Currently I am an ICREA Research Professor at the Center for Brain and Cognition of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, where I coordinate the Language and Comparative Cognition Group.

Research interests

I am interested in studying why complex abilities such as those involved in language and music, have only emerged in humans and not in other animals. I tackle this issue using a combination of experimental techniques and populations that include human adults and infants, and non-human animals. Our studies have demonstrated that some of the building blocks of language learning and music processing are found in other animals, including the abilitiy to extract information from speech using prosodic and statistical regularities. We have also showed how phonological representations guide general learning mechanisms. In the field of music cognition, our research has explored consonance processing, brain entraintment to metrical structures and harmonic predictions. Through this work, I have tried to unveil what is uniquely human and what is shared with other animals.

Selected publications

- Celma-Miralles, Alexandre & Toro, Juan M 2020, 'Non-human animals detect the rhythmic structure of a familiar tune'Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 27, pages 694–699.

- Mueller J, ten Cate C & Toro JM 2020, 'A comparative perspective on the role of acoustic cues in detecting language structure', Topics in Cognitive Science - 12, 3, 859 - 874.

- Celma-Miralles A & Toro JM 2020, 'Discrimination of temporal regularity in rats (Rattus norvegicus) and humans (Homo sapiens)', Journal of Comparative Psychology, 134, 1, 3 - 10.