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. (2014). In thrall to the vocabulary. Acoustics Australia, 42, 84-89.

    Abstract

    Vocabularies contain hundreds of thousands of words built from only a handful of phonemes; longer words inevitably tend to contain shorter ones. Recognising speech thus requires distinguishing intended words from accidentally present ones. Acoustic information in speech is used wherever it contributes significantly to this process; but as this review shows, its contribution differs across languages, with the consequences of this including: identical and equivalently present information distinguishing the same phonemes being used in Polish but not in German, or in English but not in Italian; identical stress cues being used in Dutch but not in English; expectations about likely embedding patterns differing across English, French, Japanese.
  • Junge, C., & Cutler, A. (2014). Early word recognition and later language skills. Brain sciences, 4(4), 532-559. doi:10.3390/brainsci4040532.

    Abstract

    Recent behavioral and electrophysiological evidence has highlighted the long-term importance for language skills of an early ability to recognize words in continuous speech. We here present further tests of this long-term link in the form of follow-up studies conducted with two (separate) groups of infants who had earlier participated in speech segmentation tasks. Each study extends prior follow-up tests: Study 1 by using a novel follow-up measure that taps into online processing, Study 2 by assessing language performance relationships over a longer time span than previously tested. Results of Study 1 show that brain correlates of speech segmentation ability at 10 months are positively related to 16-month-olds’ target fixations in a looking-while-listening task. Results of Study 2 show that infant speech segmentation ability no longer directly predicts language profiles at the age of five. However, a meta-analysis across our results and those of similar studies (Study 3) reveals that age at follow-up does not moderate effect size. Together, the results suggest that infants’ ability to recognize words in speech certainly benefits early vocabulary development; further observed relationships of later language skills to early word recognition may be consequent upon this vocabulary size effect.
  • Junge, C., Cutler, A., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Successful word recognition by 10-month-olds given continuous speech both at initial exposure and test. Infancy, 19(2), 179-193. doi:10.1111/infa.12040.

    Abstract

    Most words that infants hear occur within fluent speech. To compile a vocabulary, infants therefore need to segment words from speech contexts. This study is the first to investigate whether infants (here: 10-month-olds) can recognize words when both initial exposure and test presentation are in continuous speech. Electrophysiological evidence attests that this indeed occurs: An increased extended negativity (word recognition effect) appears for familiarized target words relative to control words. This response proved constant at the individual level: Only infants who showed this negativity at test had shown such a response, within six repetitions after first occurrence, during familiarization.
  • Tuinman, A., Mitterer, H., & Cutler, A. (2014). Use of syntax in perceptual compensation for phonological reduction. Language and Speech, 57, 68-85. doi:10.1177/0023830913479106.

    Abstract

    Listeners resolve ambiguity in speech by consulting context. Extensive research on this issue has largely relied on continua of sounds constructed to vary incrementally between two phonemic endpoints. In this study we presented listeners instead with phonetic ambiguity of a kind with which they have natural experience: varying degrees of word-final /t/-reduction. In two experiments, Dutch listeners decided whether or not the verb in a sentence such as Maar zij ren(t) soms ‘But she sometimes run(s)’ ended in /t/. In Dutch, presence versus absence of final /t/ distinguishes third- from first-person singular present-tense verbs. Acoustic evidence for /t/ varied from clear to absent, and immediately preceding phonetic context was consistent with more versus less likely deletion of /t/. In both experiments, listeners reported more /t/s in sentences in which /t/ would be syntactically correct. In Experiment 1, the disambiguating syntactic information preceded the target verb, as above, while in Experiment 2, it followed the verb. The syntactic bias was greater for fast than for slow responses in Experiment 1, but no such difference appeared in Experiment 2. We conclude that syntactic information does not directly influence pre-lexical processing, but is called upon in making phoneme decisions.
  • Van der Zande, P., Jesse, A., & Cutler, A. (2014). Cross-speaker generalisation in two phoneme-level perceptual adaptation processes. Journal of Phonetics, 43, 38-46. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2014.01.003.

    Abstract

    Speech perception is shaped by listeners' prior experience with speakers. Listeners retune their phonetic category boundaries after encountering ambiguous sounds in order to deal with variations between speakers. Repeated exposure to an unambiguous sound, on the other hand, leads to a decrease in sensitivity to the features of that particular sound. This study investigated whether these changes in the listeners' perceptual systems can generalise to the perception of speech from a novel speaker. Specifically, the experiments looked at whether visual information about the identity of the speaker could prevent generalisation from occurring. In Experiment 1, listeners retuned auditory category boundaries using audiovisual speech input. This shift in the category boundaries affected perception of speech from both the exposure speaker and a novel speaker. In Experiment 2, listeners were repeatedly exposed to unambiguous speech either auditorily or audiovisually, leading to a decrease in sensitivity to the features of the exposure sound. Here, too, the changes affected the perception of both the exposure speaker and the novel speaker. Together, these results indicate that changes in the perceptual system can affect the perception of speech from a novel speaker and that visual speaker identity information did not prevent this generalisation.
  • Van der Zande, P., Jesse, A., & Cutler, A. (2014). Hearing words helps seeing words: A cross-modal word repetition effect. Speech Communication, 59, 31-43. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2014.01.001.

    Abstract

    Watching a speaker say words benefits subsequent auditory recognition of the same words. In this study, we tested whether hearing words also facilitates subsequent phonological processing from visual speech, and if so, whether speaker repetition influences the magnitude of this word repetition priming. We used long-term cross-modal repetition priming as a means to investigate the underlying lexical representations involved in listening to and seeing speech. In Experiment 1, listeners identified auditory-only words during exposure and visual-only words at test. Words at test were repeated or new and produced by the exposure speaker or a novel speaker. Results showed a significant effect of cross-modal word repetition priming but this was unaffected by speaker changes. Experiment 2 added an explicit recognition task at test. Listeners’ lipreading performance was again improved by prior exposure to auditory words. Explicit recognition memory was poor, and neither word repetition nor speaker repetition improved it. This suggests that cross-modal repetition priming is neither mediated by explicit memory nor improved by speaker information. Our results suggest that phonological representations in the lexicon are shared across auditory and visual processing, and that speaker information is not transferred across modalities at the lexical level.
  • Warner, N., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2014). Tracking perception of the sounds of English. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 135, 2295-3006. doi:10.1121/1.4870486.

    Abstract

    Twenty American English listeners identified gated fragments of all 2288 possible English within-word and cross-word diphones, providing a total of 538 560 phoneme categorizations. The results show orderly uptake of acoustic information in the signal and provide a view of where information about segments occurs in time. Information locus depends on each speech sound’s identity and phonological features. Affricates and diphthongs have highly localized information so that listeners’ perceptual accuracy rises during a confined time range. Stops and sonorants have more distributed and gradually appearing information. The identity and phonological features (e.g., vowel vs consonant) of the neighboring segment also influences when acoustic information about a segment is available. Stressed vowels are perceived significantly more accurately than unstressed vowels, but this effect is greater for lax vowels than for tense vowels or diphthongs. The dataset charts the availability of perceptual cues to segment identity across time for the full phoneme repertoire of English in all attested phonetic contexts.
  • 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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