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.
  • Cutler, A. (2005). Why is it so hard to understand a second language in noise? Newsletter, American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, 48, 16-16.
  • Cutler, A., Smits, R., & Cooper, N. (2005). Vowel perception: Effects of non-native language vs. non-native dialect. Speech Communication, 47(1-2), 32-42. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2005.02.001.

    Abstract

    Three groups of listeners identified the vowel in CV and VC syllables produced by an American English talker. The listeners were (a) native speakers of American English, (b) native speakers of Australian English (different dialect), and (c) native speakers of Dutch (different language). The syllables were embedded in multispeaker babble at three signal-to-noise ratios (0 dB, 8 dB, and 16 dB). The identification performance of native listeners was significantly better than that of listeners with another language but did not significantly differ from the performance of listeners with another dialect. Dialect differences did however affect the type of perceptual confusions which listeners made; in particular, the Australian listeners’ judgements of vowel tenseness were more variable than the American listeners’ judgements, which may be ascribed to cross-dialectal differences in this vocalic feature. Although listening difficulty can result when speech input mismatches the native dialect in terms of the precise cues for and boundaries of phonetic categories, the difficulty is very much less than that which arises when speech input mismatches the native language in terms of the repertoire of phonemic categories available.
  • Kooijman, V., Hagoort, P., & Cutler, A. (2005). Electrophysiological evidence for prelinguistic infants' word recognition in continuous speech. Cognitive Brain Research, 24(1), 109-116. doi:10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2004.12.009.

    Abstract

    Children begin to talk at about age one. The vocabulary they need to do so must be built on perceptual evidence and, indeed, infants begin to recognize spoken words long before they talk. Most of the utterances infants hear, however, are continuous, without pauses between words, so constructing a vocabulary requires them to decompose continuous speech in order to extract the individual words. Here, we present electrophysiological evidence that 10-month-old infants recognize two-syllable words they have previously heard only in isolation when these words are presented anew in continuous speech. Moreover, they only need roughly the first syllable of the word to begin doing this. Thus, prelinguistic infants command a highly efficient procedure for segmentation and recognition of spoken words in the absence of an existing vocabulary, allowing them to tackle effectively the problem of bootstrapping a lexicon out of the highly variable, continuous speech signals in their environment.
  • Sharp, D. J., Scott, S. K., Cutler, A., & Wise, R. J. S. (2005). Lexical retrieval constrained by sound structure: The role of the left inferior frontal gyrus. Brain and Language, 92(3), 309-319. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2004.07.002.

    Abstract

    Positron emission tomography was used to investigate two competing hypotheses about the role of the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) in word generation. One proposes a domain-specific organization, with neural activation dependent on the type of information being processed, i.e., surface sound structure or semantic. The other proposes a process-specific organization, with activation dependent on processing demands, such as the amount of selection needed to decide between competing lexical alternatives. In a novel word retrieval task, word reconstruction (WR), subjects generated real words from heard non-words by the substitution of either a vowel or consonant. Both types of lexical retrieval, informed by sound structure alone, produced activation within anterior and posterior left IFG regions. Within these regions there was greater activity for consonant WR, which is more difficult and imposes greater processing demands. These results support a process-specific organization of the anterior left IFG.
  • Van Donselaar, W., Koster, M., & Cutler, A. (2005). Exploring the role of lexical stress in lexical recognition. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58A(2), 251-273. doi:10.1080/02724980343000927.

    Abstract

    Three cross-modal priming experiments examined the role of suprasegmental information in the processing of spoken words. All primes consisted of truncated spoken Dutch words. Recognition of visually presented word targets was facilitated by prior auditory presentation of the first two syllables of the same words as primes, but only if they were appropriately stressed (e.g., OKTOBER preceded by okTO-); inappropriate stress, compatible with another word (e.g., OKTOBER preceded by OCto-, the beginning of octopus), produced inhibition. Monosyllabic fragments (e.g., OC-) also produced facilitation when appropriately stressed; if inappropriately stressed, they produced neither facilitation nor inhibition. The bisyllabic fragments that were compatible with only one word produced facilitation to semantically associated words, but inappropriate stress caused no inhibition of associates. The results are explained within a model of spoken-word recognition involving competition between simultaneously activated phonological representations followed by activation of separate conceptual representations for strongly supported lexical candidates; at the level of the phonological representations, activation is modulated by both segmental and suprasegmental information.
  • Warner, N., Smits, R., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2005). Phonological and statistical effects on timing of speech perception: Insights from a database of Dutch diphone perception. Speech Communication, 46(1), 53-72. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2005.01.003.

    Abstract

    We report detailed analyses of a very large database on timing of speech perception collected by Smits et al. (Smits, R., Warner, N., McQueen, J.M., Cutler, A., 2003. Unfolding of phonetic information over time: A database of Dutch diphone perception. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 113, 563–574). Eighteen listeners heard all possible diphones of Dutch, gated in portions of varying size and presented without background noise. The present report analyzes listeners’ responses across gates in terms of phonological features (voicing, place, and manner for consonants; height, backness, and length for vowels). The resulting patterns for feature perception differ from patterns reported when speech is presented in noise. The data are also analyzed for effects of stress and of phonological context (neighboring vowel vs. consonant); effects of these factors are observed to be surprisingly limited. Finally, statistical effects, such as overall phoneme frequency and transitional probabilities, along with response biases, are examined; these too exercise only limited effects on response patterns. The results suggest highly accurate speech perception on the basis of acoustic information alone.
  • Warner, N., Kim, J., Davis, C., & Cutler, A. (2005). Use of complex phonological patterns in speech processing: Evidence from Korean. Journal of Linguistics, 41(2), 353-387. doi:10.1017/S0022226705003294.

    Abstract

    Korean has a very complex phonology, with many interacting alternations. In a coronal-/i/ sequence, depending on the type of phonological boundary present, alternations such as palatalization, nasal insertion, nasal assimilation, coda neutralization, and intervocalic voicing can apply. This paper investigates how the phonological patterns of Korean affect processing of morphemes and words. Past research on languages such as English, German, Dutch, and Finnish has shown that listeners exploit syllable structure constraints in processing speech and segmenting it into words. The current study shows that in parsing speech, listeners also use much more complex patterns that relate the surface phonological string to various boundaries.
  • 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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