Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7
  • 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., Weber, A., Smits, R., & Cooper, N. (2004). Patterns of English phoneme confusions by native and non-native listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 116(6), 3668-3678. doi:10.1121/1.1810292.

    Abstract

    Native American English and non-native(Dutch)listeners identified either the consonant or the vowel in all possible American English CV and VC syllables. The syllables were embedded in multispeaker babble at three signal-to-noise ratios(0, 8, and 16 dB). The phoneme identification performance of the non-native listeners was less accurate than that of the native listeners. All listeners were adversely affected by noise. With these isolated syllables, initial segments were harder to identify than final segments. Crucially, the effects of language background and noise did not interact; the performance asymmetry between the native and non-native groups was not significantly different across signal-to-noise ratios. It is concluded that the frequently reported disproportionate difficulty of non-native listening under disadvantageous conditions is not due to a disproportionate increase in phoneme misidentifications.
  • Cutler, A. (2004). On spoken-word recognition in a second language. Newsletter, American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, 47, 15-15.
  • Weber, A., & Cutler, A. (2004). Lexical competition in non-native spoken-word recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, 50(1), 1-25. doi:10.1016/S0749-596X(03)00105-0.

    Abstract

    Four eye-tracking experiments examined lexical competition in non-native spoken-word recognition. Dutch listeners hearing English fixated longer on distractor pictures with names containing vowels that Dutch listeners are likely to confuse with vowels in a target picture name (pencil, given target panda) than on less confusable distractors (beetle, given target bottle). English listeners showed no such viewing time difference. The confusability was asymmetric: given pencil as target, panda did not distract more than distinct competitors. Distractors with Dutch names phonologically related to English target names (deksel, ‘lid,’ given target desk) also received longer fixations than distractors with phonologically unrelated names. Again, English listeners showed no differential effect. With the materials translated into Dutch, Dutch listeners showed no activation of the English words (desk, given target deksel). The results motivate two conclusions: native phonemic categories capture second-language input even when stored representations maintain a second-language distinction; and lexical competition is greater for non-native than for native listeners.
  • 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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