Anne Cutler †

Publications

Displaying 1 - 22 of 22
  • Cutler, A., & Jesse, A. (2021). Word stress in speech perception. In J. S. Pardo, L. C. Nygaard, & D. B. Pisoni (Eds.), The handbook of speech perception (2nd ed., pp. 239-265). Chichester: Wiley.
  • Cutler, A., Aslin, R. N., Gervain, J., & Nespor, M. (2021). Special issue in honor of Jacques Mehler, Cognition's founding editor [preface]. Cognition, 213: 104786. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104786.
  • Kember, H., Choi, J., Yu, J., & Cutler, A. (2021). The processing of linguistic prominence. Language and Speech, 64(2), 413-436. 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.
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2021). More why, less how: What we need from models of cognition. Cognition, 213: 104688. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104688.

    Abstract

    Science regularly experiences periods in which simply describing the world is prioritised over attempting to explain it. Cognition, this journal, came into being some 45 years ago as an attempt to lay one such period to rest; without doubt, it has helped create the current cognitive science climate in which theory is decidedly welcome. Here we summarise the reasons why a theoretical approach is imperative in our field, and call attention to some potentially counter-productive trends in which cognitive models are concerned too exclusively with how processes work at the expense of why the processes exist in the first place and thus what the goal of modelling them must be.
  • Zhou, W., Broersma, M., & Cutler, A. (2021). Asymmetric memory for birth language perception versus production in young international adoptees. Cognition, 213: 104788. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104788.

    Abstract

    Adults who as children were adopted into a different linguistic community retain knowledge of their birth language. The possession (without awareness) of such knowledge is known to facilitate the (re)learning of birth-language speech patterns; this perceptual learning predicts such adults' production success as well, indicating that the retained linguistic knowledge is abstract in nature. Adoptees' acquisition of their adopted language is fast and complete; birth-language mastery disappears rapidly, although this latter process has been little studied. Here, 46 international adoptees from China aged four to 10 years, with Dutch as their new language, plus 47 matched non-adopted Dutch-native controls and 40 matched non-adopted Chinese controls, undertook across a two-week period 10 blocks of training in perceptually identifying Chinese speech contrasts (one segmental, one tonal) which were unlike any Dutch contrasts. Chinese controls easily accomplished all these tasks. The same participants also provided speech production data in an imitation task. In perception, adoptees and Dutch controls scored equivalently poorly at the outset of training; with training, the adoptees significantly improved while the Dutch controls did not. In production, adoptees' imitations both before and after training could be better identified, and received higher goodness ratings, than those of Dutch controls. The perception results confirm that birth-language knowledge is stored and can facilitate re-learning in post-adoption childhood; the production results suggest that although processing of phonological category detail appears to depend on access to the stored knowledge, general articulatory dimensions can at this age also still be remembered, and may facilitate spoken imitation.

    Additional information

    stimulus materials
  • Choi, J., Cutler, A., & Broersma, M. (2017). Early development of abstract language knowledge: Evidence from perception-production transfer of birth-language memory. Royal Society Open Science, 4: 160660. doi:10.1098/rsos.160660.

    Abstract

    Children adopted early in life into another linguistic community typically forget their birth language but retain, unaware, relevant linguistic knowledge that may facilitate (re)learning of birth-language patterns. Understanding the nature of this knowledge can shed light on how language is acquired. Here, international adoptees from Korea with Dutch as their current language, and matched Dutch-native controls, provided speech production data on a Korean consonantal distinction unlike any Dutch distinctions, at the outset and end of an intensive perceptual training. The productions, elicited in a repetition task, were identified and rated by Korean listeners. Adoptees' production scores improved significantly more across the training period than control participants' scores, and, for adoptees only, relative production success correlated significantly with the rate of learning in perception (which had, as predicted, also surpassed that of the controls). Of the adoptee group, half had been adopted at 17 months or older (when talking would have begun), while half had been prelinguistic (under six months). The former group, with production experience, showed no advantage over the group without. Thus the adoptees' retained knowledge of Korean transferred from perception to production and appears to be abstract in nature rather than dependent on the amount of experience.
  • Choi, J., Broersma, M., & Cutler, A. (2017). Early phonology revealed by international adoptees' birth language retention. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(28), 7307-7312. doi:10.1073/pnas.1706405114.

    Abstract

    Until at least 6 mo of age, infants show good discrimination for familiar phonetic contrasts (i.e., those heard in the environmental language) and contrasts that are unfamiliar. Adult-like discrimination (significantly worse for nonnative than for native contrasts) appears only later, by 9–10 mo. This has been interpreted as indicating that infants have no knowledge of phonology until vocabulary development begins, after 6 mo of age. Recently, however, word recognition has been observed before age 6 mo, apparently decoupling the vocabulary and phonology acquisition processes. Here we show that phonological acquisition is also in progress before 6 mo of age. The evidence comes from retention of birth-language knowledge in international adoptees. In the largest ever such study, we recruited 29 adult Dutch speakers who had been adopted from Korea when young and had no conscious knowledge of Korean language at all. Half were adopted at age 3–5 mo (before native-specific discrimination develops) and half at 17 mo or older (after word learning has begun). In a short intensive training program, we observe that adoptees (compared with 29 matched controls) more rapidly learn tripartite Korean consonant distinctions without counterparts in their later-acquired Dutch, suggesting that the adoptees retained phonological knowledge about the Korean distinction. The advantage is equivalent for the younger-adopted and the older-adopted groups, and both groups not only acquire the tripartite distinction for the trained consonants but also generalize it to untrained consonants. Although infants younger than 6 mo can still discriminate unfamiliar phonetic distinctions, this finding indicates that native-language phonological knowledge is nonetheless being acquired at that age.
  • Goudbeek, M., Smits, R., Cutler, A., & Swingley, D. (2017). Auditory and phonetic category formation. In H. Cohen, & C. Lefebvre (Eds.), Handbook of categorization in cognitive science (2nd revised ed.) (pp. 687-708). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Warner, N., & Cutler, A. (2017). Stress effects in vowel perception as a function of language-specific vocabulary patterns. Phonetica, 74, 81-106. doi:10.1159/000447428.

    Abstract

    Background/Aims: Evidence from spoken word recognition suggests that for English listeners, distinguishing full versus reduced vowels is important, but discerning stress differences involving the same full vowel (as in mu- from music or museum) is not. In Dutch, in contrast, the latter distinction is important. This difference arises from the relative frequency of unstressed full vowels in the two vocabularies. The goal of this paper is to determine how this difference in the lexicon influences the perception of stressed versus unstressed vowels. Methods: All possible sequences of two segments (diphones) in Dutch and in English were presented to native listeners in gated fragments. We recorded identification performance over time throughout the speech signal. The data were here analysed specifically for patterns in perception of stressed versus unstressed vowels. Results: The data reveal significantly larger stress effects (whereby unstressed vowels are harder to identify than stressed vowels) in English than in Dutch. Both language-specific and shared patterns appear regarding which vowels show stress effects. Conclusion: We explain the larger stress effect in English as reflecting the processing demands caused by the difference in use of unstressed vowels in the lexicon. The larger stress effect in English is due to relative inexperience with processing unstressed full vowels
  • Cutler, A. (1989). Auditory lexical access: Where do we start? In W. Marslen-Wilson (Ed.), Lexical representation and process (pp. 342-356). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Abstract

    The lexicon, considered as a component of the process of recognizing speech, is a device that accepts a sound image as input and outputs meaning. Lexical access is the process of formulating an appropriate input and mapping it onto an entry in the lexicon's store of sound images matched with their meanings. This chapter addresses the problems of auditory lexical access from continuous speech. The central argument to be proposed is that utterance prosody plays a crucial role in the access process. Continuous listening faces problems that are not present in visual recognition (reading) or in noncontinuous recognition (understanding isolated words). Aspects of utterance prosody offer a solution to these particular problems.
  • Cutler, A., Howard, D., & Patterson, K. E. (1989). Misplaced stress on prosody: A reply to Black and Byng. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 6, 67-83.

    Abstract

    The recent claim by Black and Byng (1986) that lexical access in reading is subject to prosodic constraints is examined and found to be unsupported. The evidence from impaired reading which Black and Byng report is based on poorly controlled stimulus materials and is inadequately analysed and reported. An alternative explanation of their findings is proposed, and new data are reported for which this alternative explanation can account but their model cannot. Finally, their proposal is shown to be theoretically unmotivated and in conflict with evidence from normal reading.
  • Cutler, A. (1989). Straw modules [Commentary/Massaro: Speech perception]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 760-762.
  • Cutler, A. (1989). The new Victorians. New Scientist, (1663), 66.
  • Patterson, R. D., & Cutler, A. (1989). Auditory preprocessing and recognition of speech. In A. Baddeley, & N. Bernsen (Eds.), Research directions in cognitive science: A european perspective: Vol. 1. Cognitive psychology (pp. 23-60). London: Erlbaum.
  • Smith, M. R., Cutler, A., Butterfield, S., & Nimmo-Smith, I. (1989). The perception of rhythm and word boundaries in noise-masked speech. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 32, 912-920.

    Abstract

    The present experiment tested the suggestion that human listeners may exploit durational information in speech to parse continuous utterances into words. Listeners were presented with six-syllable unpredictable utterances under noise-masking, and were required to judge between alternative word strings as to which best matched the rhythm of the masked utterances. For each utterance there were four alternative strings: (a) an exact rhythmic and word boundary match, (b) a rhythmic mismatch, and (c) two utterances with the same rhythm as the masked utterance, but different word boundary locations. Listeners were clearly able to perceive the rhythm of the masked utterances: The rhythmic mismatch was chosen significantly less often than any other alternative. Within the three rhythmically matched alternatives, the exact match was chosen significantly more often than either word boundary mismatch. Thus, listeners both perceived speech rhythm and used durational cues effectively to locate the position of word boundaries.
  • Cutler, A. (1981). Degrees of transparency in word formation. Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 26, 73-77.
  • 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). 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. (1981). The cognitive reality of suprasegmental phonology. In T. Myers, J. Laver, & J. Anderson (Eds.), The cognitive representation of speech (pp. 399-400). Amsterdam: North-Holland.
  • 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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