Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 20 of 20
  • 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.
  • Bock, K., Butterfield, S., Cutler, A., Cutting, J. C., Eberhard, K. M., & Humphreys, K. R. (2006). Number agreement in British and American English: Disagreeing to agree collectively. Language, 82(1), 64-113.

    Abstract

    British andAmerican speakers exhibit different verb number agreement patterns when sentence subjects have collective headnouns. From linguistic andpsycholinguistic accounts of how agreement is implemented, three alternative hypotheses can be derived to explain these differences. The hypotheses involve variations in the representation of notional number, disparities in how notional andgrammatical number are used, and inequalities in the grammatical number specifications of collective nouns. We carriedout a series of corpus analyses, production experiments, andnorming studies to test these hypotheses. The results converge to suggest that British and American speakers are equally sensitive to variations in notional number andimplement subjectverb agreement in much the same way, but are likely to differ in the lexical specifications of number for collectives. The findings support a psycholinguistic theory that explains verb and pronoun agreement within a parallel architecture of lexical andsyntactic formulation.
  • Cutler, A., Weber, A., & Otake, T. (2006). Asymmetric mapping from phonetic to lexical representations in second-language listening. Journal of Phonetics, 34(2), 269-284. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2005.06.002.

    Abstract

    The mapping of phonetic information to lexical representations in second-language (L2) listening was examined using an eyetracking paradigm. Japanese listeners followed instructions in English to click on pictures in a display. When instructed to click on a picture of a rocket, they experienced interference when a picture of a locker was present, that is, they tended to look at the locker instead. However, when instructed to click on the locker, they were unlikely to look at the rocket. This asymmetry is consistent with a similar asymmetry previously observed in Dutch listeners’ mapping of English vowel contrasts to lexical representations. The results suggest that L2 listeners may maintain a distinction between two phonetic categories of the L2 in their lexical representations, even though their phonetic processing is incapable of delivering the perceptual discrimination required for correct mapping to the lexical distinction. At the phonetic processing level, one of the L2 categories is dominant; the present results suggest that dominance is determined by acoustic–phonetic proximity to the nearest L1 category. At the lexical processing level, representations containing this dominant category are more likely than representations containing the non-dominant category to be correctly contacted by the phonetic input.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2006). Are there really interactive processes in speech perception? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(12), 533-533. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2006.10.004.
  • McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2006). Phonological abstraction in the mental lexicon. Cognitive Science, 30(6), 1113-1126. doi:10.1207/s15516709cog0000_79.

    Abstract

    A perceptual learning experiment provides evidence that the mental lexicon cannot consist solely of detailed acoustic traces of recognition episodes. In a training lexical decision phase, listeners heard an ambiguous [f–s] fricative sound, replacing either [f] or [s] in words. In a test phase, listeners then made lexical decisions to visual targets following auditory primes. Critical materials were minimal pairs that could be a word with either [f] or [s] (cf. English knife–nice), none of which had been heard in training. Listeners interpreted the minimal pair words differently in the second phase according to the training received in the first phase. Therefore, lexically mediated retuning of phoneme perception not only influences categorical decisions about fricatives (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003), but also benefits recognition of words outside the training set. The observed generalization across words suggests that this retuning occurs prelexically. Therefore, lexical processing involves sublexical phonological abstraction, not only accumulation of acoustic episodes.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2006). The dynamic nature of speech perception. Language and Speech, 49(1), 101-112.

    Abstract

    The speech perception system must be flexible in responding to the variability in speech sounds caused by differences among speakers and by language change over the lifespan of the listener. Indeed, listeners use lexical knowledge to retune perception of novel speech (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003). In that study, Dutch listeners made lexical decisions to spoken stimuli, including words with an ambiguous fricative (between [f] and [s]), in either [f]- or [s]-biased lexical contexts. In a subsequent categorization test, the former group of listeners identified more sounds on an [εf] - [εs] continuum as [f] than the latter group. In the present experiment, listeners received the same exposure and test stimuli, but did not make lexical decisions to the exposure items. Instead, they counted them. Categorization results were indistinguishable from those obtained earlier. These adjustments in fricative perception therefore do not depend on explicit judgments during exposure. This learning effect thus reflects automatic retuning of the interpretation of acoustic-phonetic information.
  • Norris, D., Butterfield, S., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2006). Lexically guided retuning of letter perception. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 59(9), 1505-1515. doi:10.1080/17470210600739494.

    Abstract

    Participants made visual lexical decisions to upper-case words and nonwords, and then categorized an ambiguous N–H letter continuum. The lexical decision phase included different exposure conditions: Some participants saw an ambiguous letter “?”, midway between N and H, in N-biased lexical contexts (e.g., REIG?), plus words with unambiguousH(e.g., WEIGH); others saw the reverse (e.g., WEIG?, REIGN). The first group categorized more of the test continuum as N than did the second group. Control groups, who saw “?” in nonword contexts (e.g., SMIG?), plus either of the unambiguous word sets (e.g., WEIGH or REIGN), showed no such subsequent effects. Perceptual learning about ambiguous letters therefore appears to be based on lexical knowledge, just as in an analogous speech experiment (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003) which showed similar lexical influence in learning about ambiguous phonemes. We argue that lexically guided learning is an efficient general strategy available for exploitation by different specific perceptual tasks.
  • Norris, D., Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., & Butterfield, S. (2006). Phonological and conceptual activation in speech comprehension. Cognitive Psychology, 53(2), 146-193. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2006.03.001.

    Abstract

    We propose that speech comprehension involves the activation of token representations of the phonological forms of current lexical hypotheses, separately from the ongoing construction of a conceptual interpretation of the current utterance. In a series of cross-modal priming experiments, facilitation of lexical decision responses to visual target words (e.g., time) was found for targets that were semantic associates of auditory prime words (e.g., date) when the primes were isolated words, but not when the same primes appeared in sentence contexts. Identity priming (e.g., faster lexical decisions to visual date after spoken date than after an unrelated prime) appeared, however, both with isolated primes and with primes in prosodically neutral sentences. Associative priming in sentence contexts only emerged when sentence prosody involved contrastive accents, or when sentences were terminated immediately after the prime. Associative priming is therefore not an automatic consequence of speech processing. In no experiment was there associative priming from embedded words (e.g., sedate-time), but there was inhibitory identity priming (e.g., sedate-date) from embedded primes in sentence contexts. Speech comprehension therefore appears to involve separate distinct activation both of token phonological word representations and of conceptual word representations. Furthermore, both of these types of representation are distinct from the long-term memory representations of word form and meaning.
  • Shi, R., Cutler, A., Werker, J., & Cruickshank, M. (2006). Frequency and form as determinants of functor sensitivity in English-acquiring infants. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 119(6), EL61-EL67. doi:10.1121/1.2198947.

    Abstract

    High-frequency functors are arguably among the earliest perceived word forms and may assist extraction of initial vocabulary items. Canadian 11- and 8-month-olds were familiarized to pseudo-nouns following either a high-frequency functor the or a low-frequency functor her versus phonetically similar mispronunciations of each, kuh and ler, and then tested for recognition of the pseudo-nouns. A preceding the (but not kuh, her, ler)facilitated extraction of the pseudo-nouns for 11-month-olds; the is thus well-specified in form for these infants. However, both the and kuh (but not her-ler )f aciliated segmentation or 8-month-olds, suggesting an initial underspecified representation of high-frequency functors.
  • Shi, R., Werker, J. F., & Cutler, A. (2006). Recognition and representation of function words in English-learning infants. Infancy, 10(2), 187-198. doi:10.1207/s15327078in1002_5.

    Abstract

    We examined infants' recognition of functors and the accuracy of the representations that infants construct of the perceived word forms. Auditory stimuli were “Functor + Content Word” versus “Nonsense Functor + Content Word” sequences. Eight-, 11-, and 13-month-old infants heard both real functors and matched nonsense functors (prosodically analogous to their real counterparts but containing a segmental change). Results reveal that 13-month-olds recognized functors with attention to segmental detail. Eight-month-olds did not distinguish real versus nonsense functors. The performance of 11-month-olds fell in between that of the older and younger groups, consistent with an emerging recognition of real functors. The three age groups exhibited a clear developmental trend. We propose that in the earliest stages of vocabulary acquisition, function elements receive no segmentally detailed representations, but such representations are gradually constructed so that once vocabulary growth starts in earnest, fully specified functor representations are in place to support it.
  • Wagner, A., Ernestus, M., & Cutler, A. (2006). Formant transitions in fricative identification: The role of native fricative inventory. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 120(4), 2267-2277. doi:10.1121/1.2335422.

    Abstract

    The distribution of energy across the noise spectrum provides the primary cues for the identification of a fricative. Formant transitions have been reported to play a role in identification of some fricatives, but the combined results so far are conflicting. We report five experiments testing the hypothesis that listeners differ in their use of formant transitions as a function of the presence of spectrally similar fricatives in their native language. Dutch, English, German, Polish, and Spanish native listeners performed phoneme monitoring experiments with pseudowords containing either coherent or misleading formant transitions for the fricatives / s / and / f /. Listeners of German and Dutch, both languages without spectrally similar fricatives, were not affected by the misleading formant transitions. Listeners of the remaining languages were misled by incorrect formant transitions. In an untimed labeling experiment both Dutch and Spanish listeners provided goodness ratings that revealed sensitivity to the acoustic manipulation. We conclude that all listeners may be sensitive to mismatching information at a low auditory level, but that they do not necessarily take full advantage of all available systematic acoustic variation when identifying phonemes. Formant transitions may be most useful for listeners of languages with spectrally similar fricatives.
  • Weber, A., & Cutler, A. (2006). First-language phonotactics in second-language listening. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 119(1), 597-607. doi:10.1121/1.2141003.

    Abstract

    Highly proficient German users of English as a second language, and native speakers of American English, listened to nonsense sequences and responded whenever they detected an embedded English word. The responses of both groups were equivalently facilitated by preceding context that both by English and by German phonotactic constraints forced a boundary at word onset (e.g., lecture was easier to detect in moinlecture than in gorklecture, and wish in yarlwish than in plookwish. The American L1 speakers’ responses were strongly facilitated, and the German listeners’ responses almost as strongly facilitated, by contexts that forced a boundary in English but not in German thrarshlecture, glarshwish. The German listeners’ responses were significantly facilitated also by contexts that forced a boundary in German but not in English )moycelecture, loitwish, while L1 listeners were sensitive to acoustic boundary cues in these materials but not to the phonotactic sequences. The pattern of results suggests that proficient L2 listeners can acquire the phonotactic probabilities of an L2 and use them to good effect in segmenting continuous speech, but at the same time they may not be able to prevent interference from L1 constraints in their L2 listening.
  • Cutler, A., Sebastian-Galles, N., Soler-Vilageliu, O., & Van Ooijen, B. (2000). Constraints of vowels and consonants on lexical selection: Cross-linguistic comparisons. Memory & Cognition, 28, 746-755.

    Abstract

    Languages differ in the constitution of their phonemic repertoire and in the relative distinctiveness of phonemes within the repertoire. In the present study, we asked whether such differences constrain spoken-word recognition, via two word reconstruction experiments, in which listeners turned non-words into real words by changing single sounds. The experiments were carried out in Dutch (which has a relatively balanced vowel-consonant ratio and many similar vowels) and in Spanish (which has many more consonants than vowels and high distinctiveness among the vowels). Both Dutch and Spanish listeners responded significantly faster and more accurately when required to change vowels as opposed to consonants; when allowed to change any phoneme, they more often altered vowels than consonants. Vowel information thus appears to constrain lexical selection less tightly (allow more potential candidates) than does consonant information, independent of language-specific phoneme repertoire and of relative distinctiveness of vowels.
  • Cutler, A., & Van de Weijer, J. (2000). De ontdekking van de eerste woorden. Stem-, Spraak- en Taalpathologie, 9, 245-259.

    Abstract

    Spraak is continu, er zijn geen betrouwbare signalen waardoor de luisteraar weet waar het ene woord eindigt en het volgende begint. Voor volwassen luisteraars is het segmenteren van gesproken taal in afzonderlijke woorden dus niet onproblematisch, maar voor een kind dat nog geen woordenschat bezit, vormt de continuïteit van spraak een nog grotere uitdaging. Desalniettemin produceren de meeste kinderen hun eerste herkenbare woorden rond het begin van het tweede levensjaar. Aan deze vroege spraakproducties gaat een formidabele perceptuele prestatie vooraf. Tijdens het eerste levensjaar - met name gedurende de tweede helft - ontwikkelt de spraakperceptie zich van een algemeen fonetisch discriminatievermogen tot een selectieve gevoeligheid voor de fonologische contrasten die in de moedertaal voorkomen. Recent onderzoek heeft verder aangetoond dat kinderen, lang voordat ze ook maar een enkel woord kunnen zeggen, in staat zijn woorden die kenmerkend zijn voor hun moedertaal te onderscheiden van woorden die dat niet zijn. Bovendien kunnen ze woorden die eerst in isolatie werden aangeboden herkennen in een continue spraakcontext. Het dagelijkse taalaanbod aan een kind van deze leeftijd maakt het in zekere zin niet gemakkelijk, bijvoorbeeld doordat de meeste woorden niet in isolatie voorkomen. Toch wordt het kind ook wel houvast geboden, onder andere doordat het woordgebruik beperkt is.
  • Houston, D. M., Jusczyk, P. W., Kuijpers, C., Coolen, R., & Cutler, A. (2000). Cross-language word segmentation by 9-month-olds. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 7, 504-509.

    Abstract

    Dutch-learning and English-learning 9-month-olds were tested, using the Headturn Preference Procedure, for their ability to segment Dutch words with strong/weak stress patterns from fluent Dutch speech. This prosodic pattern is highly typical for words of both languages. The infants were familiarized with pairs of words and then tested on four passages, two that included the familiarized words and two that did not. Both the Dutch- and the English-learning infants gave evidence of segmenting the targets from the passages, to an equivalent degree. Thus, English-learning infants are able to extract words from fluent speech in a language that is phonetically different from English. We discuss the possibility that this cross-language segmentation ability is aided by the similarity of the typical rhythmic structure of Dutch and English words.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2000). Feedback on feedback on feedback: It’s feedforward. (Response to commentators). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 352-370.

    Abstract

    The central thesis of the target article was that feedback is never necessary in spoken word recognition. The commentaries present no new data and no new theoretical arguments which lead us to revise this position. In this response we begin by clarifying some terminological issues which have lead to a number of significant misunderstandings. We provide some new arguments to support our case that the feedforward model Merge is indeed more parsimonious than the interactive alternatives, and that it provides a more convincing account of the data than alternative models. Finally, we extend the arguments to deal with new issues raised by the commentators such as infant speech perception and neural architecture.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2000). Merging information in speech recognition: Feedback is never necessary. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23, 299-325.

    Abstract

    Top-down feedback does not benefit speech recognition; on the contrary, it can hinder it. No experimental data imply that feedback loops are required for speech recognition. Feedback is accordingly unnecessary and spoken word recognition is modular. To defend this thesis, we analyse lexical involvement in phonemic decision making. TRACE (McClelland & Elman 1986), a model with feedback from the lexicon to prelexical processes, is unable to account for all the available data on phonemic decision making. The modular Race model (Cutler & Norris 1979) is likewise challenged by some recent results, however. We therefore present a new modular model of phonemic decision making, the Merge model. In Merge, information flows from prelexical processes to the lexicon without feedback. Because phonemic decisions are based on the merging of prelexical and lexical information, Merge correctly predicts lexical involvement in phonemic decisions in both words and nonwords. Computer simulations show how Merge is able to account for the data through a process of competition between lexical hypotheses. We discuss the issue of feedback in other areas of language processing and conclude that modular models are particularly well suited to the problems and constraints of speech recognition.
  • 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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