Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 16 of 16
  • Kember, H., Choi, J., Yu, J., & Cutler, A. (2019). The processing of linguistic prominence. Language and Speech. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/0023830919880217.

    Abstract

    Prominence, the expression of informational weight within utterances, can be signaled by prosodic highlighting (head-prominence, as in English) or by position (as in Korean edge-prominence). Prominence confers processing advantages, even if conveyed only by discourse manipulations. Here we compared processing of prominence in English and Korean, using a task that indexes processing success, namely recognition memory. In each language, participants’ memory was tested for target words heard in sentences in which they were prominent due to prosody, position, both or neither. Prominence produced recall advantage, but the relative effects differed across language. For Korean listeners the positional advantage was greater, but for English listeners prosodic and syntactic prominence had equivalent and additive effects. In a further experiment semantic and phonological foils tested depth of processing of the recall targets. Both foil types were correctly rejected, suggesting that semantic processing had not reached the level at which word form was no longer available. Together the results suggest that prominence processing is primarily driven by universal effects of information structure; but language-specific differences in frequency of experience prompt different relative advantages of prominence signal types. Processing efficiency increases in each case, however, creating more accurate and more rapidly contactable memory representations.
  • Nazzi, T., & Cutler, A. (2019). How consonants and vowels shape spoken-language recognition. Annual Review of Linguistics, 5, 25-47. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011718-011919.

    Abstract

    All languages instantiate a consonant/vowel contrast. This contrast has processing consequences at different levels of spoken-language recognition throughout the lifespan. In adulthood, lexical processing is more strongly associated with consonant than with vowel processing; this has been demonstrated across 13 languages from seven language families and in a variety of auditory lexical-level tasks (deciding whether a spoken input is a word, spotting a real word embedded in a minimal context, reconstructing a word minimally altered into a pseudoword, learning new words or the “words” of a made-up language), as well as in written-word tasks involving phonological processing. In infancy, a consonant advantage in word learning and recognition is found to emerge during development in some languages, though possibly not in others, revealing that the stronger lexicon–consonant association found in adulthood is learned. Current research is evaluating the relative contribution of the early acquisition of the acoustic/phonetic and lexical properties of the native language in the emergence of this association
  • Akker, E., & Cutler, A. (2003). Prosodic cues to semantic structure in native and nonnative listening. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 6(2), 81-96. doi:10.1017/S1366728903001056.

    Abstract

    Listeners efficiently exploit sentence prosody to direct attention to words bearing sentence accent. This effect has been explained as a search for focus, furthering rapid apprehension of semantic structure. A first experiment supported this explanation: English listeners detected phoneme targets in sentences more rapidly when the target-bearing words were in accented position or in focussed position, but the two effects interacted, consistent with the claim that the effects serve a common cause. In a second experiment a similar asymmetry was observed with Dutch listeners and Dutch sentences. In a third and a fourth experiment, proficient Dutch users of English heard English sentences; here, however, the two effects did not interact. The results suggest that less efficient mapping of prosody to semantics may be one way in which nonnative listening fails to equal native listening.
  • Johnson, E. K., Jusczyk, P. W., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2003). Lexical viability constraints on speech segmentation by infants. Cognitive Psychology, 46(1), 65-97. doi:10.1016/S0010-0285(02)00507-8.

    Abstract

    The Possible Word Constraint limits the number of lexical candidates considered in speech recognition by stipulating that input should be parsed into a string of lexically viable chunks. For instance, an isolated single consonant is not a feasible word candidate. Any segmentation containing such a chunk is disfavored. Five experiments using the head-turn preference procedure investigated whether, like adults, 12-month-olds observe this constraint in word recognition. In Experiments 1 and 2, infants were familiarized with target words (e.g., rush), then tested on lists of nonsense items containing these words in “possible” (e.g., “niprush” [nip + rush]) or “impossible” positions (e.g., “prush” [p + rush]). The infants listened significantly longer to targets in “possible” versus “impossible” contexts when targets occurred at the end of nonsense items (rush in “prush”), but not when they occurred at the beginning (tan in “tance”). In Experiments 3 and 4, 12-month-olds were similarly familiarized with target words, but test items were real words in sentential contexts (win in “wind” versus “window”). The infants listened significantly longer to words in the “possible” condition regardless of target location. Experiment 5 with targets at the beginning of isolated real words (e.g., win in “wind”) replicated Experiment 2 in showing no evidence of viability effects in beginning position. Taken together, the findings suggest that, in situations in which 12-month-olds are required to rely on their word segmentation abilities, they give evidence of observing lexical viability constraints in the way that they parse fluent speech.
  • McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2003). Flow of information in the spoken word recognition system. Speech Communication, 41(1), 257-270. doi:10.1016/S0167-6393(02)00108-5.

    Abstract

    Spoken word recognition consists of two major component processes. First, at the prelexical stage, an abstract description of the utterance is generated from the information in the speech signal. Second, at the lexical stage, this description is used to activate all the words stored in the mental lexicon which match the input. These multiple candidate words then compete with each other. We review evidence which suggests that positive (match) and negative (mismatch) information of both a segmental and a suprasegmental nature is used to constrain this activation and competition process. We then ask whether, in addition to the necessary influence of the prelexical stage on the lexical stage, there is also feedback from the lexicon to the prelexical level. In two phonetic categorization experiments, Dutch listeners were asked to label both syllable-initial and syllable-final ambiguous fricatives (e.g., sounds ranging from [f] to [s]) in the word–nonword series maf–mas, and the nonword–word series jaf–jas. They tended to label the sounds in a lexically consistent manner (i.e., consistent with the word endpoints of the series). These lexical effects became smaller in listeners’ slower responses, even when the listeners were put under pressure to respond as fast as possible. Our results challenge models of spoken word recognition in which feedback modulates the prelexical analysis of the component sounds of a word whenever that word is heard
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2003). Perceptual learning in speech. Cognitive Psychology, 47(2), 204-238. doi:10.1016/S0010-0285(03)00006-9.

    Abstract

    This study demonstrates that listeners use lexical knowledge in perceptual learning of speech sounds. Dutch listeners first made lexical decisions on Dutch words and nonwords. The final fricative of 20 critical words had been replaced by an ambiguous sound, between [f] and [s]. One group of listeners heard ambiguous [f]-final words (e.g., [WI tlo?], from witlof, chicory) and unambiguous [s]-final words (e.g., naaldbos, pine forest). Another group heard the reverse (e.g., ambiguous [na:ldbo?], unambiguous witlof). Listeners who had heard [?] in [f]-final words were subsequently more likely to categorize ambiguous sounds on an [f]–[s] continuum as [f] than those who heard [?] in [s]-final words. Control conditions ruled out alternative explanations based on selective adaptation and contrast. Lexical information can thus be used to train categorization of speech. This use of lexical information differs from the on-line lexical feedback embodied in interactive models of speech perception. In contrast to on-line feedback, lexical feedback for learning is of benefit to spoken word recognition (e.g., in adapting to a newly encountered dialect).
  • Smits, R., Warner, N., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2003). Unfolding of phonetic information over time: A database of Dutch diphone perception. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 113(1), 563-574. doi:10.1121/1.1525287.

    Abstract

    We present the results of a large-scale study on speech perception, assessing the number and type of perceptual hypotheses which listeners entertain about possible phoneme sequences in their language. Dutch listeners were asked to identify gated fragments of all 1179 diphones of Dutch, providing a total of 488 520 phoneme categorizations. The results manifest orderly uptake of acoustic information in the signal. Differences across phonemes in the rate at which fully correct recognition was achieved arose as a result of whether or not potential confusions could occur with other phonemes of the language ~long with short vowels, affricates with their initial components, etc.!. These data can be used to improve models of how acoustic phonetic information is mapped onto the mental lexicon during speech comprehension.
  • Spinelli, E., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2003). Processing resyllabified words in French. Journal of Memory and Language, 48(2), 233-254. doi:10.1016/S0749-596X(02)00513-2.
  • Weber, A., & Cutler, A. (2003). Perceptual similarity co-existing with lexical dissimilarity [Abstract]. Abstracts of the 146th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 114(4 Pt. 2), 2422. doi:10.1121/1.1601094.

    Abstract

    The extreme case of perceptual similarity is indiscriminability, as when two second‐language phonemes map to a single native category. An example is the English had‐head vowel contrast for Dutch listeners; Dutch has just one such central vowel, transcribed [E]. We examine whether the failure to discriminate in phonetic categorization implies indiscriminability in other—e.g., lexical—processing. Eyetracking experiments show that Dutch‐native listeners instructed in English to ‘‘click on the panda’’ look (significantly more than native listeners) at a pictured pencil, suggesting that pan‐ activates their lexical representation of pencil. The reverse, however, is not the case: ‘‘click on the pencil’’ does not induce looks to a panda, suggesting that pen‐ does not activate panda in the lexicon. Thus prelexically undiscriminated second‐language distinctions can nevertheless be maintained in stored lexical representations. The problem of mapping a resulting unitary input to two distinct categories in lexical representations is solved by allowing input to activate only one second‐language category. For Dutch listeners to English, this is English [E], as a result of which no vowels in the signal ever map to words containing [ae]. We suggest that the choice of category is here motivated by a more abstract, phonemic, metric of similarity.
  • Cutler, A., Norris, D., & McQueen, J. M. (1994). Modelling lexical access from continuous speech input. Dokkyo International Review, 7, 193-215.

    Abstract

    The recognition of speech involves the segmentation of continuous utterances into their component words. Cross-linguistic evidence is briefly reviewed which suggests that although there are language-specific solutions to this segmentation problem, they have one thing in common: they are all based on language rhythm. In English, segmentation is stress-based: strong syllables are postulated to be the onsets of words. Segmentation, however, can also be achieved by a process of competition between activated lexical hypotheses, as in the Shortlist model. A series of experiments is summarised showing that segmentation of continuous speech depends on both lexical competition and a metrically-guided procedure. In the final section, the implementation of metrical segmentation in the Shortlist model is described: the activation of lexical hypotheses matching strong syllables in the input is boosted and that of hypotheses mismatching strong syllables in the input is penalised.
  • Cutler, A., & Otake, T. (1994). Mora or phoneme? Further evidence for language-specific listening. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 824-844. doi:10.1006/jmla.1994.1039.

    Abstract

    Japanese listeners detect speech sound targets which correspond precisely to a mora (a phonological unit which is the unit of rhythm in Japanese) more easily than targets which do not. English listeners detect medial vowel targets more slowly than consonants. Six phoneme detection experiments investigated these effects in both subject populations, presented with native- and foreign-language input. Japanese listeners produced faster and more accurate responses to moraic than to nonmoraic targets both in Japanese and, where possible, in English; English listeners responded differently. The detection disadvantage for medial vowels appeared with English listeners both in English and in Japanese; again, Japanese listeners responded differently. Some processing operations which listeners apply to speech input are language-specific; these language-specific procedures, appropriate for listening to input in the native language, may be applied to foreign-language input irrespective of whether they remain appropriate.
  • Cutler, A. (1994). The perception of rhythm in language. Cognition, 50, 79-81. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(94)90021-3.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (1994). Competition in spoken word recognition: Spotting words in other words. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20, 621-638.

    Abstract

    Although word boundaries are rarely clearly marked, listeners can rapidly recognize the individual words of spoken sentences. Some theories explain this in terms of competition between multiply activated lexical hypotheses; others invoke sensitivity to prosodic structure. We describe a connectionist model, SHORTLIST, in which recognition by activation and competition is successful with a realistically sized lexicon. Three experiments are then reported in which listeners detected real words embedded in nonsense strings, some of which were themselves the onsets of longer words. Effects both of competition between words and of prosodic structure were observed, suggesting that activation and competition alone are not sufficient to explain word recognition in continuous speech. However, the results can be accounted for by a version of SHORTLIST that is sensitive to prosodic structure.
  • Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1990). Durational cues to word boundaries in clear speech. Speech Communication, 9, 485-495.

    Abstract

    One of a listener’s major tasks in understanding continuous speech in segmenting the speech signal into separate words. When listening conditions are difficult, speakers can help listeners by deliberately clear speech. We found that speakers do indeed attempt to makr word boundaries; moreover, they differentiate between word boundaries in a way which suggest they are sensitive to listener needs. Application of heuristic segmentation strategies makes word boundaries before strong syllables easiest for listeners to perceive; but under difficult listening conditions speakers pay more attention to marking word boundaries before weak syllables, i.e. they mark those boundaries which are otherwise particularly hard to perceive.
  • Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., & Robinson, K. (1990). Elizabeth and John: Sound patterns of men’s and women’s names. Journal of Linguistics, 26, 471-482. doi:10.1017/S0022226700014754.
  • Cutler, A., & Scott, D. R. (1990). Speaker sex and perceived apportionment of talk. Applied Psycholinguistics, 11, 253-272. doi:10.1017/S0142716400008882.

    Abstract

    It is a widely held belief that women talk more than men; but experimental evidence has suggested that this belief is mistaken. The present study investigated whether listener bias contributes to this mistake. Dialogues were recorded in mixed-sex and single-sex versions, and male and female listeners judged the proportions of talk contributed to the dialogues by each participant. Female contributions to mixed-sex dialogues were rated as greater than male contributions by both male and female listeners. Female contributions were more likely to be overestimated when they were speaking a dialogue part perceived as probably female than when they were speaking a dialogue part perceived as probably male. It is suggested that the misestimates are due to a complex of factors that may involve both perceptual effects such as misjudgment of rates of speech and sociological effects such as attitudes to social roles and perception of power relations.

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