Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 22 of 22
  • 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. (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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