Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17
  • 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
  • Cutler, A. (2005). Why is it so hard to understand a second language in noise? Newsletter, American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, 48, 16-16.
  • Cutler, A., Smits, R., & Cooper, N. (2005). Vowel perception: Effects of non-native language vs. non-native dialect. Speech Communication, 47(1-2), 32-42. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2005.02.001.

    Abstract

    Three groups of listeners identified the vowel in CV and VC syllables produced by an American English talker. The listeners were (a) native speakers of American English, (b) native speakers of Australian English (different dialect), and (c) native speakers of Dutch (different language). The syllables were embedded in multispeaker babble at three signal-to-noise ratios (0 dB, 8 dB, and 16 dB). The identification performance of native listeners was significantly better than that of listeners with another language but did not significantly differ from the performance of listeners with another dialect. Dialect differences did however affect the type of perceptual confusions which listeners made; in particular, the Australian listeners’ judgements of vowel tenseness were more variable than the American listeners’ judgements, which may be ascribed to cross-dialectal differences in this vocalic feature. Although listening difficulty can result when speech input mismatches the native dialect in terms of the precise cues for and boundaries of phonetic categories, the difficulty is very much less than that which arises when speech input mismatches the native language in terms of the repertoire of phonemic categories available.
  • Kooijman, V., Hagoort, P., & Cutler, A. (2005). Electrophysiological evidence for prelinguistic infants' word recognition in continuous speech. Cognitive Brain Research, 24(1), 109-116. doi:10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2004.12.009.

    Abstract

    Children begin to talk at about age one. The vocabulary they need to do so must be built on perceptual evidence and, indeed, infants begin to recognize spoken words long before they talk. Most of the utterances infants hear, however, are continuous, without pauses between words, so constructing a vocabulary requires them to decompose continuous speech in order to extract the individual words. Here, we present electrophysiological evidence that 10-month-old infants recognize two-syllable words they have previously heard only in isolation when these words are presented anew in continuous speech. Moreover, they only need roughly the first syllable of the word to begin doing this. Thus, prelinguistic infants command a highly efficient procedure for segmentation and recognition of spoken words in the absence of an existing vocabulary, allowing them to tackle effectively the problem of bootstrapping a lexicon out of the highly variable, continuous speech signals in their environment.
  • Sharp, D. J., Scott, S. K., Cutler, A., & Wise, R. J. S. (2005). Lexical retrieval constrained by sound structure: The role of the left inferior frontal gyrus. Brain and Language, 92(3), 309-319. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2004.07.002.

    Abstract

    Positron emission tomography was used to investigate two competing hypotheses about the role of the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) in word generation. One proposes a domain-specific organization, with neural activation dependent on the type of information being processed, i.e., surface sound structure or semantic. The other proposes a process-specific organization, with activation dependent on processing demands, such as the amount of selection needed to decide between competing lexical alternatives. In a novel word retrieval task, word reconstruction (WR), subjects generated real words from heard non-words by the substitution of either a vowel or consonant. Both types of lexical retrieval, informed by sound structure alone, produced activation within anterior and posterior left IFG regions. Within these regions there was greater activity for consonant WR, which is more difficult and imposes greater processing demands. These results support a process-specific organization of the anterior left IFG.
  • Van Donselaar, W., Koster, M., & Cutler, A. (2005). Exploring the role of lexical stress in lexical recognition. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58A(2), 251-273. doi:10.1080/02724980343000927.

    Abstract

    Three cross-modal priming experiments examined the role of suprasegmental information in the processing of spoken words. All primes consisted of truncated spoken Dutch words. Recognition of visually presented word targets was facilitated by prior auditory presentation of the first two syllables of the same words as primes, but only if they were appropriately stressed (e.g., OKTOBER preceded by okTO-); inappropriate stress, compatible with another word (e.g., OKTOBER preceded by OCto-, the beginning of octopus), produced inhibition. Monosyllabic fragments (e.g., OC-) also produced facilitation when appropriately stressed; if inappropriately stressed, they produced neither facilitation nor inhibition. The bisyllabic fragments that were compatible with only one word produced facilitation to semantically associated words, but inappropriate stress caused no inhibition of associates. The results are explained within a model of spoken-word recognition involving competition between simultaneously activated phonological representations followed by activation of separate conceptual representations for strongly supported lexical candidates; at the level of the phonological representations, activation is modulated by both segmental and suprasegmental information.
  • Warner, N., Smits, R., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2005). Phonological and statistical effects on timing of speech perception: Insights from a database of Dutch diphone perception. Speech Communication, 46(1), 53-72. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2005.01.003.

    Abstract

    We report detailed analyses of a very large database on timing of speech perception collected by Smits et al. (Smits, R., Warner, N., McQueen, J.M., Cutler, A., 2003. Unfolding of phonetic information over time: A database of Dutch diphone perception. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 113, 563–574). Eighteen listeners heard all possible diphones of Dutch, gated in portions of varying size and presented without background noise. The present report analyzes listeners’ responses across gates in terms of phonological features (voicing, place, and manner for consonants; height, backness, and length for vowels). The resulting patterns for feature perception differ from patterns reported when speech is presented in noise. The data are also analyzed for effects of stress and of phonological context (neighboring vowel vs. consonant); effects of these factors are observed to be surprisingly limited. Finally, statistical effects, such as overall phoneme frequency and transitional probabilities, along with response biases, are examined; these too exercise only limited effects on response patterns. The results suggest highly accurate speech perception on the basis of acoustic information alone.
  • Warner, N., Kim, J., Davis, C., & Cutler, A. (2005). Use of complex phonological patterns in speech processing: Evidence from Korean. Journal of Linguistics, 41(2), 353-387. doi:10.1017/S0022226705003294.

    Abstract

    Korean has a very complex phonology, with many interacting alternations. In a coronal-/i/ sequence, depending on the type of phonological boundary present, alternations such as palatalization, nasal insertion, nasal assimilation, coda neutralization, and intervocalic voicing can apply. This paper investigates how the phonological patterns of Korean affect processing of morphemes and words. Past research on languages such as English, German, Dutch, and Finnish has shown that listeners exploit syllable structure constraints in processing speech and segmenting it into words. The current study shows that in parsing speech, listeners also use much more complex patterns that relate the surface phonological string to various boundaries.
  • Costa, A., Cutler, A., & Sebastian-Galles, N. (1998). Effects of phoneme repertoire on phoneme decision. Perception and Psychophysics, 60, 1022-1031.

    Abstract

    In three experiments, listeners detected vowel or consonant targets in lists of CV syllables constructed from five vowels and five consonants. Responses were faster in a predictable context (e.g., listening for a vowel target in a list of syllables all beginning with the same consonant) than in an unpredictable context (e.g., listening for a vowel target in a list of syllables beginning with different consonants). In Experiment 1, the listeners’ native language was Dutch, in which vowel and consonant repertoires are similar in size. The difference between predictable and unpredictable contexts was comparable for vowel and consonant targets. In Experiments 2 and 3, the listeners’ native language was Spanish, which has four times as many consonants as vowels; here effects of an unpredictable consonant context on vowel detection were significantly greater than effects of an unpredictable vowel context on consonant detection. This finding suggests that listeners’ processing of phonemes takes into account the constitution of their language’s phonemic repertoire and the implications that this has for contextual variability.
  • Cutler, A. (1981). Degrees of transparency in word formation. Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 26, 73-77.
  • Cutler, A. (1981). Making up materials is a confounded nuisance, or: Will we able to run any psycholinguistic experiments at all in 1990? Cognition, 10, 65-70. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(81)90026-3.
  • Cutler, A., & Darwin, C. J. (1981). Phoneme-monitoring reaction time and preceding prosody: Effects of stop closure duration and of fundamental frequency. Perception and Psychophysics, 29, 217-224. Retrieved from http://www.psychonomic.org/search/view.cgi?id=12660.

    Abstract

    In an earlier study, it was shown that listeners can use prosodic cues that predict where sentence stress will fall; phoneme-monitoring RTs are faster when the preceding prosody indicates that the word bearing the target will be stressed. Two experiments which further investigate this effect are described. In the first, it is shown that the duration of the closure preceding the release of the target stop consonant burst does not affect the RT advantage for stressed words. In the second, it is shown that fundamental frequency variation is not a necessary component of the prosodic variation that produces the predicted-stress effect. It is argued that sentence processing involves a very flexible use of prosodic information.
  • Cutler, A. (1981). The reliability of speech error data. Linguistics, 19, 561-582.
  • Fodor, J. A., & Cutler, A. (1981). Semantic focus and sentence comprehension. Cognition, 7, 49-59. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(79)90010-6.

    Abstract

    Reaction time to detect a phoneme target in a sentence was found to be faster when the word in which the target occurred formed part of the semantic focus of the sentence. Focus was determined by asking a question before the sentence; that part of the sentence which comprised the answer to the sentence was assumed to be focussed. This procedure made it possible to vary position offocus within the sentence while holding all acoustic aspects of the sentence itself constant. It is argued that sentence understanding is facilitated by rapid identification of focussed information. Since focussed words are usually accented, it is further argued that the active search for accented words demonstrated in previous research should be interpreted as a search for semantic focus.
  • Garnham, A., Shillcock, R. C., Brown, G. D. A., Mill, A. I. D., & Cutler, A. (1981). Slips of the tongue in the London-Lund corpus of spontaneous conversation. Linguistics, 19, 805-817.
  • 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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