Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 19 of 19
  • 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., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1988). Limits on bilingualism [Letters to Nature]. Nature, 340, 229-230. doi:10.1038/340229a0.

    Abstract

    SPEECH, in any language, is continuous; speakers provide few reliable cues to the boundaries of words, phrases, or other meaningful units. To understand speech, listeners must divide the continuous speech stream into portions that correspond to such units. This segmentation process is so basic to human language comprehension that psycholinguists long assumed that all speakers would do it in the same way. In previous research1,2, however, we reported that segmentation routines can be language-specific: speakers of French process spoken words syllable by syllable, but speakers of English do not. French has relatively clear syllable boundaries and syllable-based timing patterns, whereas English has relatively unclear syllable boundaries and stress-based timing; thus syllabic segmentation would work more efficiently in the comprehension of French than in the comprehension of English. Our present study suggests that at this level of language processing, there are limits to bilingualism: a bilingual speaker has one and only one basic language.
  • Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (1988). The role of strong syllables in segmentation for lexical access. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 14, 113-121. doi:10.1037/0096-1523.14.1.113.

    Abstract

    A model of speech segmentation in a stress language is proposed, according to which the occurrence of a strong syllable triggers segmentation of the speech signal, whereas occurrence of a weak syllable does not trigger segmentation. We report experiments in which listeners detected words embedded in nonsense bisyllables more slowly when the bisyllable had two strong syllables than when it had a strong and a weak syllable; mint was detected more slowly in mintayve than in mintesh. According to our proposed model, this result is an effect of segmentation: When the second syllable is strong, it is segmented from the first syllable, and successful detection of the embedded word therefore requires assembly of speech material across a segmentation position. Speech recognition models involving phonemic or syllabic recoding, or based on strictly left-to-right processes, do not predict this result. It is argued that segmentation at strong syllables in continuous speech recognition serves the purpose of detecting the most efficient locations at which to initiate lexical access. (C) 1988 by the American Psychological Association
  • Henderson, L., Coltheart, M., Cutler, A., & Vincent, N. (1988). Preface. Linguistics, 26(4), 519-520. doi:10.1515/ling.1988.26.4.519.
  • Mehta, G., & Cutler, A. (1988). Detection of target phonemes in spontaneous and read speech. Language and Speech, 31, 135-156.

    Abstract

    Although spontaneous speech occurs more frequently in most listeners’ experience than read speech, laboratory studies of human speech recognition typically use carefully controlled materials read from a script. The phonological and prosodic characteristics of spontaneous and read speech differ considerably, however, which suggests that laboratory results may not generalize to the recognition of spontaneous and read speech materials, and their response time to detect word-initial target phonemes was measured. Response were, overall, equally fast in each speech mode. However analysis of effects previously reported in phoneme detection studies revealed significant differences between speech modes. In read speech but not in spontaneous speech, later targets were detected more rapidly than earlier targets, and targets preceded by long words were detected more rapidly than targets preceded by short words. In contrast, in spontaneous speech but not in read speech, targets were detected more rapidly in accented than unaccented words and in strong than in weak syllables. An explanation for this pattern is offered in terms of characteristic prosodic differences between spontaneous and read speech. The results support claim from previous work that listeners pay great attention to prosodic information in the process of recognizing speech.
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (1988). Speech recognition in French and English. MRC News, 39, 30-31.
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (1988). The relative accessibility of phonemes and syllables. Perception and Psychophysics, 43, 541-550. Retrieved from http://www.psychonomic.org/search/view.cgi?id=8530.

    Abstract

    Previous research comparing detection times for syllables and for phonemes has consistently found that syllables are responded to faster than phonemes. This finding poses theoretical problems for strictly hierarchical models of speech recognition, in which smaller units should be able to be identified faster than larger units. However, inspection of the characteristics of previous experiments’stimuli reveals that subjects have been able to respond to syllables on the basis of only a partial analysis of the stimulus. In the present experiment, five groups of subjects listened to identical stimulus material. Phoneme and syllable monitoring under standard conditions was compared with monitoring under conditions in which near matches of target and stimulus occurred on no-response trials. In the latter case, when subjects were forced to analyze each stimulus fully, phonemes were detected faster than syllables.
  • 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.

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