Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 14 of 14
  • 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
  • Bock, K., Butterfield, S., Cutler, A., Cutting, J. C., Eberhard, K. M., & Humphreys, K. R. (2006). Number agreement in British and American English: Disagreeing to agree collectively. Language, 82(1), 64-113.

    Abstract

    British andAmerican speakers exhibit different verb number agreement patterns when sentence subjects have collective headnouns. From linguistic andpsycholinguistic accounts of how agreement is implemented, three alternative hypotheses can be derived to explain these differences. The hypotheses involve variations in the representation of notional number, disparities in how notional andgrammatical number are used, and inequalities in the grammatical number specifications of collective nouns. We carriedout a series of corpus analyses, production experiments, andnorming studies to test these hypotheses. The results converge to suggest that British and American speakers are equally sensitive to variations in notional number andimplement subjectverb agreement in much the same way, but are likely to differ in the lexical specifications of number for collectives. The findings support a psycholinguistic theory that explains verb and pronoun agreement within a parallel architecture of lexical andsyntactic formulation.
  • Cutler, A., Weber, A., & Otake, T. (2006). Asymmetric mapping from phonetic to lexical representations in second-language listening. Journal of Phonetics, 34(2), 269-284. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2005.06.002.

    Abstract

    The mapping of phonetic information to lexical representations in second-language (L2) listening was examined using an eyetracking paradigm. Japanese listeners followed instructions in English to click on pictures in a display. When instructed to click on a picture of a rocket, they experienced interference when a picture of a locker was present, that is, they tended to look at the locker instead. However, when instructed to click on the locker, they were unlikely to look at the rocket. This asymmetry is consistent with a similar asymmetry previously observed in Dutch listeners’ mapping of English vowel contrasts to lexical representations. The results suggest that L2 listeners may maintain a distinction between two phonetic categories of the L2 in their lexical representations, even though their phonetic processing is incapable of delivering the perceptual discrimination required for correct mapping to the lexical distinction. At the phonetic processing level, one of the L2 categories is dominant; the present results suggest that dominance is determined by acoustic–phonetic proximity to the nearest L1 category. At the lexical processing level, representations containing this dominant category are more likely than representations containing the non-dominant category to be correctly contacted by the phonetic input.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2006). Are there really interactive processes in speech perception? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(12), 533-533. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2006.10.004.
  • McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2006). Phonological abstraction in the mental lexicon. Cognitive Science, 30(6), 1113-1126. doi:10.1207/s15516709cog0000_79.

    Abstract

    A perceptual learning experiment provides evidence that the mental lexicon cannot consist solely of detailed acoustic traces of recognition episodes. In a training lexical decision phase, listeners heard an ambiguous [f–s] fricative sound, replacing either [f] or [s] in words. In a test phase, listeners then made lexical decisions to visual targets following auditory primes. Critical materials were minimal pairs that could be a word with either [f] or [s] (cf. English knife–nice), none of which had been heard in training. Listeners interpreted the minimal pair words differently in the second phase according to the training received in the first phase. Therefore, lexically mediated retuning of phoneme perception not only influences categorical decisions about fricatives (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003), but also benefits recognition of words outside the training set. The observed generalization across words suggests that this retuning occurs prelexically. Therefore, lexical processing involves sublexical phonological abstraction, not only accumulation of acoustic episodes.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2006). The dynamic nature of speech perception. Language and Speech, 49(1), 101-112.

    Abstract

    The speech perception system must be flexible in responding to the variability in speech sounds caused by differences among speakers and by language change over the lifespan of the listener. Indeed, listeners use lexical knowledge to retune perception of novel speech (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003). In that study, Dutch listeners made lexical decisions to spoken stimuli, including words with an ambiguous fricative (between [f] and [s]), in either [f]- or [s]-biased lexical contexts. In a subsequent categorization test, the former group of listeners identified more sounds on an [εf] - [εs] continuum as [f] than the latter group. In the present experiment, listeners received the same exposure and test stimuli, but did not make lexical decisions to the exposure items. Instead, they counted them. Categorization results were indistinguishable from those obtained earlier. These adjustments in fricative perception therefore do not depend on explicit judgments during exposure. This learning effect thus reflects automatic retuning of the interpretation of acoustic-phonetic information.
  • Norris, D., Butterfield, S., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2006). Lexically guided retuning of letter perception. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 59(9), 1505-1515. doi:10.1080/17470210600739494.

    Abstract

    Participants made visual lexical decisions to upper-case words and nonwords, and then categorized an ambiguous N–H letter continuum. The lexical decision phase included different exposure conditions: Some participants saw an ambiguous letter “?”, midway between N and H, in N-biased lexical contexts (e.g., REIG?), plus words with unambiguousH(e.g., WEIGH); others saw the reverse (e.g., WEIG?, REIGN). The first group categorized more of the test continuum as N than did the second group. Control groups, who saw “?” in nonword contexts (e.g., SMIG?), plus either of the unambiguous word sets (e.g., WEIGH or REIGN), showed no such subsequent effects. Perceptual learning about ambiguous letters therefore appears to be based on lexical knowledge, just as in an analogous speech experiment (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003) which showed similar lexical influence in learning about ambiguous phonemes. We argue that lexically guided learning is an efficient general strategy available for exploitation by different specific perceptual tasks.
  • Norris, D., Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., & Butterfield, S. (2006). Phonological and conceptual activation in speech comprehension. Cognitive Psychology, 53(2), 146-193. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2006.03.001.

    Abstract

    We propose that speech comprehension involves the activation of token representations of the phonological forms of current lexical hypotheses, separately from the ongoing construction of a conceptual interpretation of the current utterance. In a series of cross-modal priming experiments, facilitation of lexical decision responses to visual target words (e.g., time) was found for targets that were semantic associates of auditory prime words (e.g., date) when the primes were isolated words, but not when the same primes appeared in sentence contexts. Identity priming (e.g., faster lexical decisions to visual date after spoken date than after an unrelated prime) appeared, however, both with isolated primes and with primes in prosodically neutral sentences. Associative priming in sentence contexts only emerged when sentence prosody involved contrastive accents, or when sentences were terminated immediately after the prime. Associative priming is therefore not an automatic consequence of speech processing. In no experiment was there associative priming from embedded words (e.g., sedate-time), but there was inhibitory identity priming (e.g., sedate-date) from embedded primes in sentence contexts. Speech comprehension therefore appears to involve separate distinct activation both of token phonological word representations and of conceptual word representations. Furthermore, both of these types of representation are distinct from the long-term memory representations of word form and meaning.
  • Shi, R., Cutler, A., Werker, J., & Cruickshank, M. (2006). Frequency and form as determinants of functor sensitivity in English-acquiring infants. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 119(6), EL61-EL67. doi:10.1121/1.2198947.

    Abstract

    High-frequency functors are arguably among the earliest perceived word forms and may assist extraction of initial vocabulary items. Canadian 11- and 8-month-olds were familiarized to pseudo-nouns following either a high-frequency functor the or a low-frequency functor her versus phonetically similar mispronunciations of each, kuh and ler, and then tested for recognition of the pseudo-nouns. A preceding the (but not kuh, her, ler)facilitated extraction of the pseudo-nouns for 11-month-olds; the is thus well-specified in form for these infants. However, both the and kuh (but not her-ler )f aciliated segmentation or 8-month-olds, suggesting an initial underspecified representation of high-frequency functors.
  • Shi, R., Werker, J. F., & Cutler, A. (2006). Recognition and representation of function words in English-learning infants. Infancy, 10(2), 187-198. doi:10.1207/s15327078in1002_5.

    Abstract

    We examined infants' recognition of functors and the accuracy of the representations that infants construct of the perceived word forms. Auditory stimuli were “Functor + Content Word” versus “Nonsense Functor + Content Word” sequences. Eight-, 11-, and 13-month-old infants heard both real functors and matched nonsense functors (prosodically analogous to their real counterparts but containing a segmental change). Results reveal that 13-month-olds recognized functors with attention to segmental detail. Eight-month-olds did not distinguish real versus nonsense functors. The performance of 11-month-olds fell in between that of the older and younger groups, consistent with an emerging recognition of real functors. The three age groups exhibited a clear developmental trend. We propose that in the earliest stages of vocabulary acquisition, function elements receive no segmentally detailed representations, but such representations are gradually constructed so that once vocabulary growth starts in earnest, fully specified functor representations are in place to support it.
  • Wagner, A., Ernestus, M., & Cutler, A. (2006). Formant transitions in fricative identification: The role of native fricative inventory. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 120(4), 2267-2277. doi:10.1121/1.2335422.

    Abstract

    The distribution of energy across the noise spectrum provides the primary cues for the identification of a fricative. Formant transitions have been reported to play a role in identification of some fricatives, but the combined results so far are conflicting. We report five experiments testing the hypothesis that listeners differ in their use of formant transitions as a function of the presence of spectrally similar fricatives in their native language. Dutch, English, German, Polish, and Spanish native listeners performed phoneme monitoring experiments with pseudowords containing either coherent or misleading formant transitions for the fricatives / s / and / f /. Listeners of German and Dutch, both languages without spectrally similar fricatives, were not affected by the misleading formant transitions. Listeners of the remaining languages were misled by incorrect formant transitions. In an untimed labeling experiment both Dutch and Spanish listeners provided goodness ratings that revealed sensitivity to the acoustic manipulation. We conclude that all listeners may be sensitive to mismatching information at a low auditory level, but that they do not necessarily take full advantage of all available systematic acoustic variation when identifying phonemes. Formant transitions may be most useful for listeners of languages with spectrally similar fricatives.
  • Weber, A., & Cutler, A. (2006). First-language phonotactics in second-language listening. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 119(1), 597-607. doi:10.1121/1.2141003.

    Abstract

    Highly proficient German users of English as a second language, and native speakers of American English, listened to nonsense sequences and responded whenever they detected an embedded English word. The responses of both groups were equivalently facilitated by preceding context that both by English and by German phonotactic constraints forced a boundary at word onset (e.g., lecture was easier to detect in moinlecture than in gorklecture, and wish in yarlwish than in plookwish. The American L1 speakers’ responses were strongly facilitated, and the German listeners’ responses almost as strongly facilitated, by contexts that forced a boundary in English but not in German thrarshlecture, glarshwish. The German listeners’ responses were significantly facilitated also by contexts that forced a boundary in German but not in English )moycelecture, loitwish, while L1 listeners were sensitive to acoustic boundary cues in these materials but not to the phonotactic sequences. The pattern of results suggests that proficient L2 listeners can acquire the phonotactic probabilities of an L2 and use them to good effect in segmenting continuous speech, but at the same time they may not be able to prevent interference from L1 constraints in their L2 listening.
  • Cutler, A., & Cooper, W. E. (1978). Phoneme-monitoring in the context of different phonetic sequences. Journal of Phonetics, 6, 221-225.

    Abstract

    The order of some conjoined words is rigidly fixed (e.g. dribs and drabs/*drabs and dribs). Both phonetic and semantic factors can play a role in determining the fixed order. An experiment was conducted to test whether listerners’ reaction times for monitoring a predetermined phoneme are influenced by phonetic constraints on ordering. Two such constraints were investigated: monosyllable-bissyllable and high-low vowel sequences. In English, conjoined words occur in such sequences with much greater frequency than their converses, other factors being equal. Reaction times were significantly shorter for phoneme monitoring in monosyllable-bisyllable sequences than in bisyllable- monosyllable sequences. However, reaction times were not significantly different for high-low vs. low-high vowel sequences.

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