Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17
  • Bruggeman, L., & Cutler, A. (2020). No L1 privilege in talker adaptation. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 23(3), 681-693. doi:10.1017/S1366728919000646.

    Abstract

    As a rule, listening is easier in first (L1) than second languages (L2); difficult L2 listening can challenge even highly proficient users. We here examine one particular listening function, adaptation to novel talkers, in such a high-proficiency population: Dutch emigrants to Australia, predominantly using English outside the family, but all also retaining L1 proficiency. Using lexically-guided perceptual learning (Norris, McQueen & Cutler, 2003), we investigated these listeners’ adaptation to an ambiguous speech sound, in parallel experiments in both their L1 and their L2. A control study established that perceptual learning outcomes were unaffected by the procedural measures required for this double comparison. The emigrants showed equivalent proficiency in tests in both languages, robust perceptual adaptation in their L2, English, but no adaptation in L1. We propose that adaptation to novel talkers is a language-specific skill requiring regular novel practice; a limited set of known (family) interlocutors cannot meet this requirement.
  • Ip, M. H. K., & Cutler, A. (2020). Universals of listening: Equivalent prosodic entrainment in tone and non-tone languages. Cognition, 202: 104311. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104311.

    Abstract

    In English and Dutch, listeners entrain to prosodic contours to predict where focus will fall in an utterance. Here, we ask whether this strategy is universally available, even in languages with very different phonological systems (e.g., tone versus non-tone languages). In a phoneme detection experiment, we examined whether prosodic entrainment also occurs in Mandarin Chinese, a tone language, where the use of various suprasegmental cues to lexical identity may take precedence over their use in salience. Consistent with the results from Germanic languages, response times were facilitated when preceding intonation predicted high stress on the target-bearing word, and the lexical tone of the target word (i.e., rising versus falling) did not affect the Mandarin listeners' response. Further, the extent to which prosodic entrainment was used to detect the target phoneme was the same in both English and Mandarin listeners. Nevertheless, native Mandarin speakers did not adopt an entrainment strategy when the sentences were presented in English, consistent with the suggestion that L2 listening may be strained by additional functional load from prosodic processing. These findings have implications for how universal and language-specific mechanisms interact in the perception of focus structure in everyday discourse.

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  • Mandal, S., Best, C. T., Shaw, J., & Cutler, A. (2020). Bilingual phonology in dichotic perception: A case study of Malayalam and English voicing. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 5(1): 73. doi:10.5334/gjgl.853.

    Abstract

    Listeners often experience cocktail-party situations, encountering multiple ongoing conversa- tions while tracking just one. Capturing the words spoken under such conditions requires selec- tive attention and processing, which involves using phonetic details to discern phonological structure. How do bilinguals accomplish this in L1-L2 competition? We addressed that question using a dichotic listening task with fluent Malayalam-English bilinguals, in which they were pre- sented with synchronized nonce words, one in each language in separate ears, with competing onsets of a labial stop (Malayalam) and a labial fricative (English), both voiced or both voiceless. They were required to attend to the Malayalam or the English item, in separate blocks, and report the initial consonant they heard. We found that perceptual intrusions from the unattended to the attended language were influenced by voicing, with more intrusions on voiced than voiceless tri- als. This result supports our proposal for the feature specification of consonants in Malayalam- English bilinguals, which makes use of privative features, underspecification and the “standard approach” to laryngeal features, as against “laryngeal realism”. Given this representational account, we observe that intrusions result from phonetic properties in the unattended signal being assimilated to the closest matching phonological category in the attended language, and are more likely for segments with a greater number of phonological feature specifications.
  • Ullas, S., Formisano, E., Eisner, F., & Cutler, A. (2020). Audiovisual and lexical cues do not additively enhance perceptual adaptation. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 27, 707-715. doi:10.3758/s13423-020-01728-5.

    Abstract

    When listeners experience difficulty in understanding a speaker, lexical and audiovisual (or lipreading) information can be a helpful source of guidance. These two types of information embedded in speech can also guide perceptual adjustment, also known as recalibration or perceptual retuning. With retuning or recalibration, listeners can use these contextual cues to temporarily or permanently reconfigure internal representations of phoneme categories to adjust to and understand novel interlocutors more easily. These two types of perceptual learning, previously investigated in large part separately, are highly similar in allowing listeners to use speech-external information to make phoneme boundary adjustments. This study explored whether the two sources may work in conjunction to induce adaptation, thus emulating real life, in which listeners are indeed likely to encounter both types of cue together. Listeners who received combined audiovisual and lexical cues showed perceptual learning effects similar to listeners who only received audiovisual cues, while listeners who received only lexical cues showed weaker effects compared with the two other groups. The combination of cues did not lead to additive retuning or recalibration effects, suggesting that lexical and audiovisual cues operate differently with regard to how listeners use them for reshaping perceptual categories. Reaction times did not significantly differ across the three conditions, so none of the forms of adjustment were either aided or hindered by processing time differences. Mechanisms underlying these forms of perceptual learning may diverge in numerous ways despite similarities in experimental applications.

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  • Ullas, S., Formisano, E., Eisner, F., & Cutler, A. (2020). Interleaved lexical and audiovisual information can retune phoneme boundaries. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 82, 2018-2026. doi:10.3758/s13414-019-01961-8.

    Abstract

    To adapt to situations in which speech perception is difficult, listeners can adjust boundaries between phoneme categories using perceptual learning. Such adjustments can draw on lexical information in surrounding speech, or on visual cues via speech-reading. In the present study, listeners proved they were able to flexibly adjust the boundary between two plosive/stop consonants, /p/-/t/, using both lexical and speech-reading information and given the same experimental design for both cue types. Videos of a speaker pronouncing pseudo-words and audio recordings of Dutch words were presented in alternating blocks of either stimulus type. Listeners were able to switch between cues to adjust phoneme boundaries, and resulting effects were comparable to results from listeners receiving only a single source of information. Overall, audiovisual cues (i.e., the videos) produced the stronger effects, commensurate with their applicability for adapting to noisy environments. Lexical cues were able to induce effects with fewer exposure stimuli and a changing phoneme bias, in a design unlike most prior studies of lexical retuning. While lexical retuning effects were relatively weaker compared to audiovisual recalibration, this discrepancy could reflect how lexical retuning may be more suitable for adapting to speakers than to environments. Nonetheless, the presence of the lexical retuning effects suggests that it may be invoked at a faster rate than previously seen. In general, this technique has further illuminated the robustness of adaptability in speech perception, and offers the potential to enable further comparisons across differing forms of perceptual learning.
  • Ullas, S., Hausfeld, L., Cutler, A., Eisner, F., & Formisano, E. (2020). Neural correlates of phonetic adaptation as induced by lexical and audiovisual context. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 32(11), 2145-2158. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01608.

    Abstract

    When speech perception is difficult, one way listeners adjust is by reconfiguring phoneme category boundaries, drawing on contextual information. Both lexical knowledge and lipreading cues are used in this way, but it remains unknown whether these two differing forms of perceptual learning are similar at a neural level. This study compared phoneme boundary adjustments driven by lexical or audiovisual cues, using ultra-high-field 7-T fMRI. During imaging, participants heard exposure stimuli and test stimuli. Exposure stimuli for lexical retuning were audio recordings of words, and those for audiovisual recalibration were audio–video recordings of lip movements during utterances of pseudowords. Test stimuli were ambiguous phonetic strings presented without context, and listeners reported what phoneme they heard. Reports reflected phoneme biases in preceding exposure blocks (e.g., more reported /p/ after /p/-biased exposure). Analysis of corresponding brain responses indicated that both forms of cue use were associated with a network of activity across the temporal cortex, plus parietal, insula, and motor areas. Audiovisual recalibration also elicited significant occipital cortex activity despite the lack of visual stimuli. Activity levels in several ROIs also covaried with strength of audiovisual recalibration, with greater activity accompanying larger recalibration shifts. Similar activation patterns appeared for lexical retuning, but here, no significant ROIs were identified. Audiovisual and lexical forms of perceptual learning thus induce largely similar brain response patterns. However, audiovisual recalibration involves additional visual cortex contributions, suggesting that previously acquired visual information (on lip movements) is retrieved and deployed to disambiguate auditory perception.
  • Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2016). Bottoms up! How top-down pitfalls ensnare speech perception researchers too. Commentary on C. Firestone & B. Scholl: Cognition does not affect perception: Evaluating the evidence for 'top-down' effects. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, e236. doi:10.1017/S0140525X15002745.

    Abstract

    Not only can the pitfalls that Firestone & Scholl (F&S) identify be generalised across multiple studies within the field of visual perception, but also they have general application outside the field wherever perceptual and cognitive processing are compared. We call attention to the widespread susceptibility of research on the perception of speech to versions of the same pitfalls.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2016). Prediction, Bayesian inference and feedback in speech recognition. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 31(1), 4-18. doi:10.1080/23273798.2015.1081703.

    Abstract

    Speech perception involves prediction, but how is that prediction implemented? In cognitive models prediction has often been taken to imply that there is feedback of activation from lexical to pre-lexical processes as implemented in interactive-activation models (IAMs). We show that simple activation feedback does not actually improve speech recognition. However, other forms of feedback can be beneficial. In particular, feedback can enable the listener to adapt to changing input, and can potentially help the listener to recognise unusual input, or recognise speech in the presence of competing sounds. The common feature of these helpful forms of feedback is that they are all ways of optimising the performance of speech recognition using Bayesian inference. That is, listeners make predictions about speech because speech recognition is optimal in the sense captured in Bayesian models.
  • El Aissati, A., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2012). Finding words in a language that allows words without vowels. Cognition, 124, 79-84. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2012.03.006.

    Abstract

    Across many languages from unrelated families, spoken-word recognition is subject to a constraint whereby potential word candidates must contain a vowel. This constraint minimizes competition from embedded words (e.g., in English, disfavoring win in twin because t cannot be a word). However, the constraint would be counter-productive in certain languages that allow stand-alone vowelless open-class words. One such language is Berber (where t is indeed a word). Berber listeners here detected words affixed to nonsense contexts with or without vowels. Length effects seen in other languages replicated in Berber, but in contrast to prior findings, word detection was not hindered by vowelless contexts. When words can be vowelless, otherwise universal constraints disfavoring vowelless words do not feature in spoken-word recognition.

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  • Cutler, A., & Davis, C. (2012). An orthographic effect in phoneme processing, and its limitations. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 18. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00018.

    Abstract

    To examine whether lexically stored knowledge about spelling influences phoneme evaluation, we conducted three experiments with a low-level phonetic judgement task: phoneme goodness rating. In each experiment, listeners heard phonetic tokens varying along a continuum centred on /s/, occurring finally in isolated word or nonword tokens. An effect of spelling appeared in Experiment 1: Native English speakers’ goodness ratings for the best /s/ tokens were significantly higher in words spelled with S (e.g., bless) than in words spelled with C (e.g., voice). No such difference appeared when nonnative speakers rated the same materials in Experiment 2, indicating that the difference could not be due to acoustic characteristics of the S- versus C-words. In Experiment 3, nonwords with lexical neighbours consistently spelled with S (e.g., pless) versus with C (e.g., floice) failed to elicit orthographic neighbourhood effects; no significant difference appeared in native English speakers’ ratings for the S-consistent versus the C-consistent sets. Obligatory influence of lexical knowledge on phonemic processing would have predicted such neighbourhood effects; the findings are thus better accommodated by models in which phonemic decisions draw strategically upon lexical information.
  • Cutler, A. (2012). Native listening: The flexibility dimension. Dutch Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(2), 169-187.

    Abstract

    The way we listen to spoken language is tailored to the specific benefit of native-language speech input. Listening to speech in non-native languages can be significantly hindered by this native bias. Is it possible to determine the degree to which a listener is listening in a native-like manner? Promising indications of how this question may be tackled are provided by new research findings concerning the great flexibility that characterises listening to the L1, in online adjustment of phonetic category boundaries for adaptation across talkers, and in modulation of lexical dynamics for adjustment across listening conditions. This flexibility pays off in many dimensions, including listening in noise, adaptation across dialects, and identification of voices. These findings further illuminate the robustness and flexibility of native listening, and potentially point to ways in which we might begin to assess degrees of ‘native-likeness’ in this skill.
  • Cutler, A., Otake, T., & Bruggeman, L. (2012). Phonologically determined asymmetries in vocabulary structure across languages. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 132(2), EL155-EL160. doi:10.1121/1.4737596.

    Abstract

    Studies of spoken-word recognition have revealed that competition from embedded words differs in strength as a function of where in the carrier word the embedded word is found and have further shown embedding patterns to be skewed such that embeddings in initial position in carriers outnumber embeddings in final position. Lexico-statistical analyses show that this skew is highly attenuated in Japanese, a noninflectional language. Comparison of the extent of the asymmetry in the three Germanic languages English, Dutch, and German allows the source to be traced to a combination of suffixal morphology and vowel reduction in unstressed syllables.
  • Junge, C., Cutler, A., & Hagoort, P. (2012). Electrophysiological evidence of early word learning. Neuropsychologia, 50, 3702-3712. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.10.012.

    Abstract

    Around their first birthday infants begin to talk, yet they comprehend words long before. This study investigated the event-related potentials (ERP) responses of nine-month-olds on basic level picture-word pairings. After a familiarization phase of six picture-word pairings per semantic category, comprehension for novel exemplars was tested in a picture-word matching paradigm. ERPs time-locked to pictures elicited a modulation of the Negative Central (Nc) component, associated with visual attention and recognition. It was attenuated by category repetition as well as by the type-token ratio of picture context. ERPs time-locked to words in the training phase became more negative with repetition (N300-600), but there was no influence of picture type-token ratio, suggesting that infants have identified the concept of each picture before a word was presented. Results from the test phase provided clear support that infants integrated word meanings with (novel) picture context. Here, infants showed different ERP responses for words that did or did not align with the picture context: a phonological mismatch (N200) and a semantic mismatch (N400). Together, results were informative of visual categorization, word recognition and word-to-world-mappings, all three crucial processes for vocabulary construction.
  • Junge, C., Kooijman, V., Hagoort, P., & Cutler, A. (2012). Rapid recognition at 10 months as a predictor of language development. Developmental Science, 15, 463-473. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2012.1144.x.

    Abstract

    Infants’ ability to recognize words in continuous speech is vital for building a vocabulary.We here examined the amount and type of exposure needed for 10-month-olds to recognize words. Infants first heard a word, either embedded within an utterance or in isolation, then recognition was assessed by comparing event-related potentials to this word versus a word that they had not heard directly before. Although all 10-month-olds showed recognition responses to words first heard in isolation, not all infants showed such responses to words they had first heard within an utterance. Those that did succeed in the latter, harder, task, however, understood more words and utterances when re-tested at 12 months, and understood more words and produced more words at 24 months, compared with those who had shown no such recognition response at 10 months. The ability to rapidly recognize the words in continuous utterances is clearly linked to future language development.
  • McQueen, J. M., Tyler, M., & Cutler, A. (2012). Lexical retuning of children’s speech perception: Evidence for knowledge about words’ component sounds. Language Learning and Development, 8, 317-339. doi:10.1080/15475441.2011.641887.

    Abstract

    Children hear new words from many different talkers; to learn words most efficiently, they should be able to represent them independently of talker-specific pronunciation detail. However, do children know what the component sounds of words should be, and can they use that knowledge to deal with different talkers' phonetic realizations? Experiment 1 replicated prior studies on lexically guided retuning of speech perception in adults, with a picture-verification methodology suitable for children. One participant group heard an ambiguous fricative ([s/f]) replacing /f/ (e.g., in words like giraffe); another group heard [s/f] replacing /s/ (e.g., in platypus). The first group subsequently identified more tokens on a Simpie-[s/f]impie-Fimpie toy-name continuum as Fimpie. Experiments 2 and 3 found equivalent lexically guided retuning effects in 12- and 6-year-olds. Children aged 6 have all that is needed for adjusting to talker variation in speech: detailed and abstract phonological representations and the ability to apply them during spoken-word recognition.

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  • Tuinman, A., Mitterer, H., & Cutler, A. (2012). Resolving ambiguity in familiar and unfamiliar casual speech. Journal of Memory and Language, 66, 530-544. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2012.02.001.

    Abstract

    In British English, the phrase Canada aided can sound like Canada raided if the speaker links the two vowels at the word boundary with an intrusive /r/. There are subtle phonetic differences between an onset /r/ and an intrusive /r/, however. With cross-modal priming and eye-tracking, we examine how native British English listeners and non-native (Dutch) listeners deal with the lexical ambiguity arising from this language-specific connected speech process. Together the results indicate that the presence of /r/ initially activates competing words for both listener groups; however, the native listeners rapidly exploit the phonetic cues and achieve correct lexical selection. In contrast, these advanced L2 listeners to English failed to recover from the /r/-induced competition, and failed to match native performance in either task. The /r/-intrusion process, which adds a phoneme to speech input, thus causes greater difficulty for L2 listeners than connectedspeech processes which alter or delete phonemes.
  • Cutler, A., & Fay, D. (1975). You have a Dictionary in your Head, not a Thesaurus. Texas Linguistic Forum, 1, 27-40.

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