Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17
  • 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.
  • Boland, J. E., & Cutler, A. (1995). Interaction with autonomy: Defining multiple output models in psycholinguistic theory. Working Papers in Linguistic, 45, 1-10. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2066/15768.

    Abstract

    There are currently a number of psycholinguistic models in which processing at a particular level of representation is characterized by the generation of multiple outputs, with resolution involving the use of information from higher levels of processing. Surprisingly, models with this architecture have been characterized as autonomous within the domain of word recognition and as interactive within the domain of sentence processing. We suggest that the apparent internal confusion is not, as might be assumed, due to fundamental differences between lexical and syntactic processing. Rather, we believe that the labels in each domain were chosen in order to obtain maximal contrast between a new model and the model or models that were currently dominating the field.
  • Boland, J. E., & Cutler, A. (1995). Interaction with autonomy: Multiple Output models and the inadequacy of the Great Divide. Cognition, 58, 309-320. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(95)00684-2.

    Abstract

    There are currently a number of psycholinguistic models in which processing at a particular level of representation is characterized by the generation of multiple outputs, with resolution - but not generation - involving the use of information from higher levels of processing. Surprisingly, models with this architecture have been characterized as autonomous within the domain of word recognition but as interactive within the domain of sentence processing. We suggest that the apparent confusion is not, as might be assumed, due to fundamental differences between lexical and syntactic processing. Rather, we believe that the labels in each domain were chosen in order to obtain maximal contrast between a new model and the model or models that were currently dominating the field. The contradiction serves to highlight the inadequacy of a simple autonomy/interaction dichotomy for characterizing the architectures of current processing models.
  • Fear, B. D., Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1995). The strong/weak syllable distinction in English. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 97, 1893-1904. doi:10.1121/1.412063.

    Abstract

    Strong and weak syllables in English can be distinguished on the basis of vowel quality, of stress, or of both factors. Critical for deciding between these factors are syllables containing unstressed unreduced vowels, such as the first syllable of automata. In this study 12 speakers produced sentences containing matched sets of words with initial vowels ranging from stressed to reduced, at normal and at fast speech rates. Measurements of the duration, intensity, F0, and spectral characteristics of the word-initial vowels showed that unstressed unreduced vowels differed significantly from both stressed and reduced vowels. This result held true across speaker sex and dialect. The vowels produced by one speaker were then cross-spliced across the words within each set, and the resulting words' acceptability was rated by listeners. In general, cross-spliced words were only rated significantly less acceptable than unspliced words when reduced vowels interchanged with any other vowel. Correlations between rated acceptability and acoustic characteristics of the cross-spliced words demonstrated that listeners were attending to duration, intensity, and spectral characteristics. Together these results suggest that unstressed unreduced vowels in English pattern differently from both stressed and reduced vowels, so that no acoustic support for a binary categorical distinction exists; nevertheless, listeners make such a distinction, grouping unstressed unreduced vowels by preference with stressed vowels
  • McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., Briscoe, T., & Norris, D. (1995). Models of continuous speech recognition and the contents of the vocabulary. Language and Cognitive Processes, 10, 309-331. doi:10.1080/01690969508407098.

    Abstract

    Several models of spoken word recognition postulate that recognition is achieved via a process of competition between lexical hypotheses. Competition not only provides a mechanism for isolated word recognition, it also assists in continuous speech recognition, since it offers a means of segmenting continuous input into individual words. We present statistics on the pattern of occurrence of words embedded in the polysyllabic words of the English vocabulary, showing that an overwhelming majority (84%) of polysyllables have shorter words embedded within them. Positional analyses show that these embeddings are most common at the onsets of the longer word. Although both phonological and syntactic constraints could rule out some embedded words, they do not remove the problem. Lexical competition provides a means of dealing with lexical embedding. It is also supported by a growing body of experimental evidence. We present results which indicate that competition operates both between word candidates that begin at the same point in the input and candidates that begin at different points (McQueen, Norris, & Cutler, 1994, Noms, McQueen, & Cutler, in press). We conclude that lexical competition is an essential component in models of continuous speech recognition.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (1995). Competition and segmentation in spoken word recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 21, 1209-1228.

    Abstract

    Spoken utterances contain few reliable cues to word boundaries, but listeners nonetheless experience little difficulty identifying words in continuous speech. The authors present data and simulations that suggest that this ability is best accounted for by a model of spoken-word recognition combining competition between alternative lexical candidates and sensitivity to prosodic structure. In a word-spotting experiment, stress pattern effects emerged most clearly when there were many competing lexical candidates for part of the input. Thus, competition between simultaneously active word candidates can modulate the size of prosodic effects, which suggests that spoken-word recognition must be sensitive both to prosodic structure and to the effects of competition. A version of the Shortlist model ( D. G. Norris, 1994b) incorporating the Metrical Segmentation Strategy ( A. Cutler & D. Norris, 1988) accurately simulates the results using a lexicon of more than 25,000 words.
  • Cutler, A., Kearns, R., Norris, D., & Scott, D. R. (1993). Problems with click detection: Insights from cross-linguistic comparisons. Speech Communication, 13, 401-410. doi:10.1016/0167-6393(93)90038-M.

    Abstract

    Cross-linguistic comparisons may shed light on the levels of processing involved in the performance of psycholinguistic tasks. For instance, if the same pattern of results appears whether or not subjects understand the experimental materials, it may be concluded that the results do not reflect higher-level linguistic processing. In the present study, English and French listeners performed two tasks - click location and speeded click detection - with both English and French sentences, closely matched for syntactic and phonological structure. Clicks were located more accurately in open- than in closed-class words in both English and French; they were detected more rapidly in open- than in closed-class words in English, but not in French. The two listener groups produced the same pattern of responses, suggesting that higher-level linguistic processing was not involved in the listeners' responses. It is concluded that click detection tasks are primarily sensitive to low-level (e.g. acoustic) effects, and hence are not well suited to the investigation of linguistic processing.
  • Cutler, A. (1993). Segmentation problems, rhythmic solutions. Lingua, 92, 81-104. doi:10.1016/0024-3841(94)90338-7.

    Abstract

    The lexicon contains discrete entries, which must be located in speech input in order for speech to be understood; but the continuity of speech signals means that lexical access from spoken input involves a segmentation problem for listeners. The speech environment of prelinguistic infants may not provide special information to assist the infant listeners in solving this problem. Mature language users in possession of a lexicon might be thought to be able to avoid explicit segmentation of speech by relying on information from successful lexical access; however, evidence from adult perceptual studies indicates that listeners do use explicit segmentation procedures. These procedures differ across languages and seem to exploit language-specific rhythmic structure. Efficient as these procedures are, they may not have been developed in response to statistical properties of the input, because bilinguals, equally competent in two languages, apparently only possess one rhythmic segmentation procedure. The origin of rhythmic segmentation may therefore lie in the infant's exploitation of rhythm to solve the segmentation problem and gain a first toehold on lexical acquisition. Recent evidence from speech production and perception studies with prelinguistic infants supports the claim that infants are sensitive to rhythmic structure and its relationship to lexical segmentation.
  • Cutler, A. (1993). Segmenting speech in different languages. The Psychologist, 6(10), 453-455.
  • Cutler, A. (1993). Phonological cues to open- and closed-class words in the processing of spoken sentences. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 22, 109-131.

    Abstract

    Evidence is presented that (a) the open and the closed word classes in English have different phonological characteristics, (b) the phonological dimension on which they differ is one to which listeners are highly sensitive, and (c) spoken open- and closed-class words produce different patterns of results in some auditory recognition tasks. What implications might link these findings? Two recent lines of evidence from disparate paradigms—the learning of an artificial language, and natural and experimentally induced misperception of juncture—are summarized, both of which suggest that listeners are sensitive to the phonological reflections of open- vs. closed-class word status. Although these correlates cannot be strictly necessary for efficient processing, if they are present listeners exploit them in making word class assignments. That such a use of phonological information is of value to listeners could be indirect evidence that open- vs. closed-class words undergo different processing operations. Parts of the research reported in this paper were carried out in collaboration with Sally Butterfield and David Carter, and supported by the Alvey Directorate (United Kingdom). Jonathan Stankler's master's research was supported by the Science and Engineering Research Council (United Kingdom). Thanks to all of the above, and to Merrill Garrett, Mike Kelly, James McQueen, and Dennis Norris for further assistance.
  • Cutler, A., & Mehler, J. (1993). The periodicity bias. Journal of Phonetics, 21, 101-108.
  • Jusczyk, P. W., Cutler, A., & Redanz, N. J. (1993). Infants’ preference for the predominant stress patterns of English words. Child Development, 64, 675-687. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131210.

    Abstract

    One critical aspect of language acquisition is the development of a lexicon that associates sounds and meanings; but developing a lexicon first requires that the infant segment utterances into individual words. How might the infant begin this process? The present study was designed to examine the potential role that sensitivity to predominant stress patterns of words might play in lexical development. In English, by far the majority of words have stressed (strong) initial syllables. Experiment 1 of our study demonstrated that by 9 months of age American infants listen significantly longer to words with strong/weak stress patterns than to words with weak/strong stress patterns. However, Experiment 2 showed that no significant preferences for the predominant stress pattern appear with 6-month-old infants, which suggests that the preference develops as a result of increasing familiarity with the prosodic features of the native language. In a third experiment, 9-month-olds showed a preference for strong/weak patterns even when the speech input was low-pass filtered, which suggests that their preference is specifically for the prosodic structure of the words. Together the results suggest that attention to predominant stress patterns in the native language may form an important part of the infant's process of developing a lexicon.
  • Nix, A. J., Mehta, G., Dye, J., & Cutler, A. (1993). Phoneme detection as a tool for comparing perception of natural and synthetic speech. Computer Speech and Language, 7, 211-228. doi:10.1006/csla.1993.1011.

    Abstract

    On simple intelligibility measures, high-quality synthesiser output now scores almost as well as natural speech. Nevertheless, it is widely agreed that perception of synthetic speech is a harder task for listeners than perception of natural speech; in particular, it has been hypothesized that listeners have difficulty identifying phonemes in synthetic speech. If so, a simple measure of the speed with which a phoneme can be identified should prove a useful tool for comparing perception of synthetic and natural speech. The phoneme detection task was here used in three experiments comparing perception of natural and synthetic speech. In the first, response times to synthetic and natural targets were not significantly different, but in the second and third experiments response times to synthetic targets were significantly slower than to natural targets. A speed-accuracy tradeoff in the third experiment suggests that an important factor in this task is the response criterion adopted by subjects. It is concluded that the phoneme detection task is a useful tool for investigating phonetic processing of synthetic speech input, but subjects must be encouraged to adopt a response criterion which emphasizes rapid responding. When this is the case, significantly longer response times for synthetic targets can indicate a processing disadvantage for synthetic speech at an early level of phonetic analysis.
  • Otake, T., Hatano, G., Cutler, A., & Mehler, J. (1993). Mora or syllable? Speech segmentation in Japanese. Journal of Memory and Language, 32, 258-278. doi:10.1006/jmla.1993.1014.

    Abstract

    Four experiments examined segmentation of spoken Japanese words by native and non-native listeners. Previous studies suggested that language rhythm determines the segmentation unit most natural to native listeners: French has syllabic rhythm, and French listeners use the syllable in segmentation, while English has stress rhythm, and segmentation by English listeners is based on stress. The rhythm of Japanese is based on a subsyllabic unit, the mora. In the present experiments Japanese listeners′ response patterns were consistent with moraic segmentation; acoustic artifacts could not have determined the results since nonnative (English and French) listeners showed different response patterns with the same materials. Predictions of a syllabic hypothesis were disconfirmed in the Japanese listeners′ results; in contrast, French listeners showed a pattern of responses consistent with the syllabic hypothesis. The results provide further evidence that listeners′ segmentation of spoken words relies on procedures determined by the characteristic phonology of their native language.
  • Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1983). A language-specific comprehension strategy [Letters to Nature]. Nature, 304, 159-160. doi:10.1038/304159a0.

    Abstract

    Infants acquire whatever language is spoken in the environment into which they are born. The mental capability of the newborn child is not biased in any way towards the acquisition of one human language rather than another. Because psychologists who attempt to model the process of language comprehension are interested in the structure of the human mind, rather than in the properties of individual languages, strategies which they incorporate in their models are presumed to be universal, not language-specific. In other words, strategies of comprehension are presumed to be characteristic of the human language processing system, rather than, say, the French, English, or Igbo language processing systems. We report here, however, on a comprehension strategy which appears to be used by native speakers of French but not by native speakers of English.
  • Levelt, W. J. M., & Cutler, A. (1983). Prosodic marking in speech repair. Journal of semantics, 2, 205-217. doi:10.1093/semant/2.2.205.

    Abstract

    Spontaneous self-corrections in speech pose a communication problem; the speaker must make clear to the listener not only that the original Utterance was faulty, but where it was faulty and how the fault is to be corrected. Prosodic marking of corrections - making the prosody of the repair noticeably different from that of the original utterance - offers a resource which the speaker can exploit to provide the listener with such information. A corpus of more than 400 spontaneous speech repairs was analysed, and the prosodic characteristics compared with the syntactic and semantic characteristics of each repair. Prosodic marking showed no relationship at all with the syntactic characteristics of repairs. Instead, marking was associated with certain semantic factors: repairs were marked when the original utterance had been actually erroneous, rather than simply less appropriate than the repair; and repairs tended to be marked more often when the set of items encompassing the error and the repair was small rather than when it was large. These findings lend further weight to the characterization of accent as essentially semantic in function.

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