Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 16 of 16
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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., 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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