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.
  • Broersma, M., & Cutler, A. (2008). Phantom word activation in L2. System, 36(1), 22-34. doi:10.1016/j.system.2007.11.003.

    Abstract

    L2 listening can involve the phantom activation of words which are not actually in the input. All spoken-word recognition involves multiple concurrent activation of word candidates, with selection of the correct words achieved by a process of competition between them. L2 listening involves more such activation than L1 listening, and we report two studies illustrating this. First, in a lexical decision study, L2 listeners accepted (but L1 listeners did not accept) spoken non-words such as groof or flide as real English words. Second, a priming study demonstrated that the same spoken non-words made recognition of the real words groove, flight easier for L2 (but not L1) listeners, suggesting that, for the L2 listeners only, these real words had been activated by the spoken non-word input. We propose that further understanding of the activation and competition process in L2 lexical processing could lead to new understanding of L2 listening difficulty.
  • Cutler, A., Garcia Lecumberri, M. L., & Cooke, M. (2008). Consonant identification in noise by native and non-native listeners: Effects of local context. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 124(2), 1264-1268. doi:10.1121/1.2946707.

    Abstract

    Speech recognition in noise is harder in second (L2) than first languages (L1). This could be because noise disrupts speech processing more in L2 than L1, or because L1 listeners recover better though disruption is equivalent. Two similar prior studies produced discrepant results: Equivalent noise effects for L1 and L2 (Dutch) listeners, versus larger effects for L2 (Spanish) than L1. To explain this, the latter experiment was presented to listeners from the former population. Larger noise effects on consonant identification emerged for L2 (Dutch) than L1 listeners, suggesting that task factors rather than L2 population differences underlie the results discrepancy.
  • Cutler, A. (2008). The abstract representations in speech processing. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61(11), 1601-1619. doi:10.1080/13803390802218542.

    Abstract

    Speech processing by human listeners derives meaning from acoustic input via intermediate steps involving abstract representations of what has been heard. Recent results from several lines of research are here brought together to shed light on the nature and role of these representations. In spoken-word recognition, representations of phonological form and of conceptual content are dissociable. This follows from the independence of patterns of priming for a word's form and its meaning. The nature of the phonological-form representations is determined not only by acoustic-phonetic input but also by other sources of information, including metalinguistic knowledge. This follows from evidence that listeners can store two forms as different without showing any evidence of being able to detect the difference in question when they listen to speech. The lexical representations are in turn separate from prelexical representations, which are also abstract in nature. This follows from evidence that perceptual learning about speaker-specific phoneme realization, induced on the basis of a few words, generalizes across the whole lexicon to inform the recognition of all words containing the same phoneme. The efficiency of human speech processing has its basis in the rapid execution of operations over abstract representations.
  • Goudbeek, M., Cutler, A., & Smits, R. (2008). Supervised and unsupervised learning of multidimensionally varying nonnative speech categories. Speech Communication, 50(2), 109-125. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2007.07.003.

    Abstract

    The acquisition of novel phonetic categories is hypothesized to be affected by the distributional properties of the input, the relation of the new categories to the native phonology, and the availability of supervision (feedback). These factors were examined in four experiments in which listeners were presented with novel categories based on vowels of Dutch. Distribution was varied such that the categorization depended on the single dimension duration, the single dimension frequency, or both dimensions at once. Listeners were clearly sensitive to the distributional information, but unidimensional contrasts proved easier to learn than multidimensional. The native phonology was varied by comparing Spanish versus American English listeners. Spanish listeners found categorization by frequency easier than categorization by duration, but this was not true of American listeners, whose native vowel system makes more use of duration-based distinctions. Finally, feedback was either available or not; this comparison showed supervised learning to be significantly superior to unsupervised learning.
  • Kim, J., Davis, C., & Cutler, A. (2008). Perceptual tests of rhythmic similarity: II. Syllable rhythm. Language and Speech, 51(4), 343-359. doi:10.1177/0023830908099069.

    Abstract

    To segment continuous speech into its component words, listeners make use of language rhythm; because rhythm differs across languages, so do the segmentation procedures which listeners use. For each of stress-, syllable-and mora-based rhythmic structure, perceptual experiments have led to the discovery of corresponding segmentation procedures. In the case of mora-based rhythm, similar segmentation has been demonstrated in the otherwise unrelated languages Japanese and Telugu; segmentation based on syllable rhythm, however, has been previously demonstrated only for European languages from the Romance family. We here report two target detection experiments in which Korean listeners, presented with speech in Korean and in French, displayed patterns of segmentation like those previously observed in analogous experiments with French listeners. The Korean listeners' accuracy in detecting word-initial target fragments in either language was significantly higher when the fragments corresponded exactly to a syllable in the input than when the fragments were smaller or larger than a syllable. We conclude that Korean and French listeners can call on similar procedures for segmenting speech, and we further propose that perceptual tests of speech segmentation provide a valuable accompaniment to acoustic analyses for establishing languages' rhythmic class membership.
  • Cutler, A., & Otake, T. (1997). Contrastive studies of spoken-language processing. Journal of Phonetic Society of Japan, 1, 4-13.
  • Cutler, A., & Chen, H.-C. (1997). Lexical tone in Cantonese spoken-word processing. Perception and Psychophysics, 59, 165-179. Retrieved from http://www.psychonomic.org/search/view.cgi?id=778.

    Abstract

    In three experiments, the processing of lexical tone in Cantonese was examined. Cantonese listeners more often accepted a nonword as a word when the only difference between the nonword and the word was in tone, especially when the F0 onset difference between correct and erroneous tone was small. Same–different judgments by these listeners were also slower and less accurate when the only difference between two syllables was in tone, and this was true whether the F0 onset difference between the two tones was large or small. Listeners with no knowledge of Cantonese produced essentially the same same-different judgment pattern as that produced by the native listeners, suggesting that the results display the effects of simple perceptual processing rather than of linguistic knowledge. It is argued that the processing of lexical tone distinctions may be slowed, relative to the processing of segmental distinctions, and that, in speeded-response tasks, tone is thus more likely to be misprocessed than is segmental structure.
  • Cutler, A., Dahan, D., & Van Donselaar, W. (1997). Prosody in the comprehension of spoken language: A literature review. Language and Speech, 40, 141-201.

    Abstract

    Research on the exploitation of prosodic information in the recognition of spoken language is reviewed. The research falls into three main areas: the use of prosody in the recognition of spoken words, in which most attention has been paid to the question of whether the prosodic structure of a word plays a role in initial contact with stored lexical representations; the use of prosody in the computation of syntactic structure, in which the resolution of global and local ambiguities has formed the central focus; and the role of prosody in the processing of discourse structure, in which there has been a preponderance of work on the contribution of accentuation and deaccentuation to integration of concepts with an existing discourse model. The review reveals that in each area progress has been made towards new conceptions of prosody's role in processing, and in particular this has involved abandonment of previously held deterministic views of the relationship between prosodic structure and other aspects of linguistic structure
  • Cutler, A. (1997). The comparative perspective on spoken-language processing. Speech Communication, 21, 3-15. doi:10.1016/S0167-6393(96)00075-1.

    Abstract

    Psycholinguists strive to construct a model of human language processing in general. But this does not imply that they should confine their research to universal aspects of linguistic structure, and avoid research on language-specific phenomena. First, even universal characteristics of language structure can only be accurately observed cross-linguistically. This point is illustrated here by research on the role of the syllable in spoken-word recognition, on the perceptual processing of vowels versus consonants, and on the contribution of phonetic assimilation phonemena to phoneme identification. In each case, it is only by looking at the pattern of effects across languages that it is possible to understand the general principle. Second, language-specific processing can certainly shed light on the universal model of language comprehension. This second point is illustrated by studies of the exploitation of vowel harmony in the lexical segmentation of Finnish, of the recognition of Dutch words with and without vowel epenthesis, and of the contribution of different kinds of lexical prosodic structure (tone, pitch accent, stress) to the initial activation of candidate words in lexical access. In each case, aspects of the universal processing model are revealed by analysis of these language-specific effects. In short, the study of spoken-language processing by human listeners requires cross-linguistic comparison.
  • Cutler, A. (1997). The syllable’s role in the segmentation of stress languages. Language and Cognitive Processes, 12, 839-845. doi:10.1080/016909697386718.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1997). The possible-word constraint in the segmentation of continuous speech. Cognitive Psychology, 34, 191-243. doi:10.1006/cogp.1997.0671.

    Abstract

    We propose that word recognition in continuous speech is subject to constraints on what may constitute a viable word of the language. This Possible-Word Constraint (PWC) reduces activation of candidate words if their recognition would imply word status for adjacent input which could not be a word - for instance, a single consonant. In two word-spotting experiments, listeners found it much harder to detectapple,for example, infapple(where [f] alone would be an impossible word), than invuffapple(wherevuffcould be a word of English). We demonstrate that the PWC can readily be implemented in a competition-based model of continuous speech recognition, as a constraint on the process of competition between candidate words; where a stretch of speech between a candidate word and a (known or likely) word boundary is not a possible word, activation of the candidate word is reduced. This implementation accurately simulates both the present results and data from a range of earlier studies of speech segmentation.
  • Suomi, K., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (1997). Vowel harmony and speech segmentation in Finnish. Journal of Memory and Language, 36, 422-444. doi:10.1006/jmla.1996.2495.

    Abstract

    Finnish vowel harmony rules require that if the vowel in the first syllable of a word belongs to one of two vowel sets, then all subsequent vowels in that word must belong either to the same set or to a neutral set. A harmony mismatch between two syllables containing vowels from the opposing sets thus signals a likely word boundary. We report five experiments showing that Finnish listeners can exploit this information in an on-line speech segmentation task. Listeners found it easier to detect words likehymyat the end of the nonsense stringpuhymy(where there is a harmony mismatch between the first two syllables) than in the stringpyhymy(where there is no mismatch). There was no such effect, however, when the target words appeared at the beginning of the nonsense string (e.g.,hymypuvshymypy). Stronger harmony effects were found for targets containing front harmony vowels (e.g.,hymy) than for targets containing back harmony vowels (e.g.,paloinkypaloandkupalo). The same pattern of results appeared whether target position within the string was predictable or unpredictable. Harmony mismatch thus appears to provide a useful segmentation cue for the detection of word onsets in Finnish speech.
  • 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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