Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 18 of 18
  • 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.
  • Cutler, A. (2001). Listening to a second language through the ears of a first. Interpreting, 5, 1-23.
  • Cutler, A., & Van Donselaar, W. (2001). Voornaam is not a homophone: Lexical prosody and lexical access in Dutch. Language and Speech, 44, 171-195. doi:10.1177/00238309010440020301.

    Abstract

    Four experiments examined Dutch listeners’ use of suprasegmental information in spoken-word recognition. Isolated syllables excised from minimal stress pairs such as VOORnaam/voorNAAM could be reliably assigned to their source words. In lexical decision, no priming was observed from one member of minimal stress pairs to the other, suggesting that the pairs’ segmental ambiguity was removed by suprasegmental information.Words embedded in nonsense strings were harder to detect if the nonsense string itself formed the beginning of a competing word, but a suprasegmental mismatch to the competing word significantly reduced this inhibition. The same nonsense strings facilitated recognition of the longer words of which they constituted the beginning, butagain the facilitation was significantly reduced by suprasegmental mismatch. Together these results indicate that Dutch listeners effectively exploit suprasegmental cues in recognizing spoken words. Nonetheless, suprasegmental mismatch appears to be somewhat less effective in constraining activation than segmental mismatch.
  • McQueen, J. M., Otake, T., & Cutler, A. (2001). Rhythmic cues and possible-word constraints in Japanese speech segmentation. Journal of Memory and Language, 45, 103-132. doi:10.1006/jmla.2000.2763.

    Abstract

    In two word-spotting experiments, Japanese listeners detected Japanese words faster in vowel contexts (e.g., agura, to sit cross-legged, in oagura) than in consonant contexts (e.g., tagura). In the same experiments, however, listeners spotted words in vowel contexts (e.g., saru, monkey, in sarua) no faster than in moraic nasal contexts (e.g., saruN). In a third word-spotting experiment, words like uni, sea urchin, followed contexts consisting of a consonant-consonant-vowel mora (e.g., gya) plus either a moraic nasal (gyaNuni), a vowel (gyaouni) or a consonant (gyabuni). Listeners spotted words as easily in the first as in the second context (where in each case the target words were aligned with mora boundaries), but found it almost impossible to spot words in the third (where there was a single consonant, such as the [b] in gyabuni, between the beginning of the word and the nearest preceding mora boundary). Three control experiments confirmed that these effects reflected the relative ease of segmentation of the words from their contexts.We argue that the listeners showed sensitivity to the viability of sound sequences as possible Japanese words in the way that they parsed the speech into words. Since single consonants are not possible Japanese words, the listeners avoided lexical parses including single consonants and thus had difficulty recognizing words in the consonant contexts. Even though moraic nasals are also impossible words, they were not difficult segmentation contexts because, as with the vowel contexts, the mora boundaries between the contexts and the target words signaled likely word boundaries. Moraic rhythm appears to provide Japanese listeners with important segmentation cues.
  • McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2001). Spoken word access processes: An introduction. Language and Cognitive Processes, 16, 469-490. doi:10.1080/01690960143000209.

    Abstract

    We introduce the papers in this special issue by summarising the current major issues in spoken word recognition. We argue that a full understanding of the process of lexical access during speech comprehension will depend on resolving several key representational issues: what is the form of the representations used for lexical access; how is phonological information coded in the mental lexicon; and how is the morphological and semantic information about each word stored? We then discuss a number of distinct access processes: competition between lexical hypotheses; the computation of goodness-of-fit between the signal and stored lexical knowledge; segmentation of continuous speech; whether the lexicon influences prelexical processing through feedback; and the relationship of form-based processing to the processes responsible for deriving an interpretation of a complete utterance. We conclude that further progress may well be made by swapping ideas among the different sub-domains of the discipline.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., Butterfield, S., & Kearns, R. (2001). Language-universal constraints on speech segmentation. Language and Cognitive Processes, 16, 637-660. doi:10.1080/01690960143000119.

    Abstract

    Two word-spotting experiments are reported that examine whether the Possible-Word Constraint (PWC) is a language-specific or language-universal strategy for the segmentation of continuous speech. The PWC disfavours parses which leave an impossible residue between the end of a candidate word and any likely location of a word boundary, as cued in the speech signal. The experiments examined cases where the residue was either a CVC syllable with a schwa, or a CV syllable with a lax vowel. Although neither of these syllable contexts is a possible lexical word in English, word-spotting in both contexts was easier than in a context consisting of a single consonant. Two control lexical-decision experiments showed that the word-spotting results reflected the relative segmentation difficulty of the words in different contexts. The PWC appears to be language-universal rather than language-specific.
  • Soto-Faraco, S., Sebastian-Galles, N., & Cutler, A. (2001). Segmental and suprasegmental mismatch in lexical access. Journal of Memory and Language, 45, 412-432. doi:10.1006/jmla.2000.2783.

    Abstract

    Four cross-modal priming experiments in Spanish addressed the role of suprasegmental and segmental information in the activation of spoken words. Listeners heard neutral sentences ending with word fragments (e.g., princi-) and made lexical decisions on letter strings presented at fragment offset. Responses were compared for fragment primes that fully matched the spoken form of the initial portion of target words, versus primes that mismatched in a single element (stress pattern; one vowel; one consonant), versus control primes. Fully matching primes always facilitated lexical decision responses, in comparison to the control condition, while mismatching primes always produced inhibition. The respective strength of the contribution of stress, vowel, and consonant (one feature mismatch or more) information did not differ statistically. The results support a model of spoken-word recognition involving automatic activation of word forms and competition between activated words, in which the activation process is sensitive to all acoustic information relevant to the language’s phonology.
  • Warner, N., Jongman, A., Cutler, A., & Mücke, D. (2001). The phonological status of Dutch epenthetic schwa. Phonology, 18, 387-420. doi:10.1017/S0952675701004213.

    Abstract

    In this paper, we use articulatory measures to determine whether Dutch schwa epenthesis is an abstract phonological process or a concrete phonetic process depending on articulatory timing. We examine tongue position during /l/ before underlying schwa and epenthetic schwa and in coda position. We find greater tip raising before both types of schwa, indicating light /l/ before schwa and dark /l/ in coda position. We argue that the ability of epenthetic schwa to condition the /l/ alternation shows that Dutch schwa epenthesis is an abstract phonological process involving insertion of some unit, and cannot be accounted for within Articulatory Phonology.
  • 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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