Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 10 of 10
  • 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.
  • Johnson, E. K., Lahey, M., Ernestus, M., & Cutler, A. (2013). A multimodal corpus of speech to infant and adult listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 134, EL534-EL540. doi:10.1121/1.4828977.

    Abstract

    An audio and video corpus of speech addressed to 28 11-month-olds is described. The corpus allows comparisons between adult speech directed towards infants, familiar adults and unfamiliar adult addressees, as well as of caregivers’ word teaching strategies across word classes. Summary data show that infant-directed speech differed more from speech to unfamiliar than familiar adults; that word teaching strategies for nominals versus verbs and adjectives differed; that mothers mostly addressed infants with multi-word utterances; and that infants’ vocabulary size was unrelated to speech rate, but correlated positively with predominance of continuous caregiver speech (not of isolated words) in the input.
  • Kooijman, V., Junge, C., Johnson, E. K., Hagoort, P., & Cutler, A. (2013). Predictive brain signals of linguistic development. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 25. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00025.

    Abstract

    The ability to extract word forms from continuous speech is a prerequisite for constructing a vocabulary and emerges in the first year of life. Electrophysiological (ERP) studies of speech segmentation by 9- to 12-month-old listeners in several languages have found a left-localized negativity linked to word onset as a marker of word detection. We report an ERP study showing significant evidence of speech segmentation in Dutch-learning 7-month-olds. In contrast to the left-localized negative effect reported with older infants, the observed overall mean effect had a positive polarity. Inspection of individual results revealed two participant sub-groups: a majority showing a positive-going response, and a minority showing the left negativity observed in older age groups. We retested participants at age three, on vocabulary comprehension and word and sentence production. On every test, children who at 7 months had shown the negativity associated with segmentation of words from speech outperformed those who had produced positive-going brain responses to the same input. The earlier that infants show the left-localized brain responses typically indicating detection of words in speech, the better their early childhood language skills.
  • Otake, T., & Cutler, A. (2013). Lexical selection in action: Evidence from spontaneous punning. Language and Speech, 56(4), 555-573. doi:10.1177/0023830913478933.

    Abstract

    Analysis of a corpus of spontaneously produced Japanese puns from a single speaker over a two-year period provides a view of how a punster selects a source word for a pun and transforms it into another word for humorous effect. The pun-making process is driven by a principle of similarity: the source word should as far as possible be preserved (in terms of segmental sequence) in the pun. This renders homophones (English example: band–banned) the pun type of choice, with part–whole relationships of embedding (cap–capture), and mutations of the source word (peas–bees) rather less favored. Similarity also governs mutations in that single-phoneme substitutions outnumber larger changes, and in phoneme substitutions, subphonemic features tend to be preserved. The process of spontaneous punning thus applies, on line, the same similarity criteria as govern explicit similarity judgments and offline decisions about pun success (e.g., for inclusion in published collections). Finally, the process of spoken-word recognition is word-play-friendly in that it involves multiple word-form activation and competition, which, coupled with known techniques in use in difficult listening conditions, enables listeners to generate most pun types as offshoots of normal listening procedures.
  • Van der Zande, P., Jesse, A., & Cutler, A. (2013). Lexically guided retuning of visual phonetic categories. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 134, 562-571. doi:10.1121/1.4807814.

    Abstract

    Listeners retune the boundaries between phonetic categories to adjust to individual speakers' productions. Lexical information, for example, indicates what an unusual sound is supposed to be, and boundary retuning then enables the speaker's sound to be included in the appropriate auditory phonetic category. In this study, it was investigated whether lexical knowledge that is known to guide the retuning of auditory phonetic categories, can also retune visual phonetic categories. In Experiment 1, exposure to a visual idiosyncrasy in ambiguous audiovisually presented target words in a lexical decision task indeed resulted in retuning of the visual category boundary based on the disambiguating lexical context. In Experiment 2 it was tested whether lexical information retunes visual categories directly, or indirectly through the generalization from retuned auditory phonetic categories. Here, participants were exposed to auditory-only versions of the same ambiguous target words as in Experiment 1. Auditory phonetic categories were retuned by lexical knowledge, but no shifts were observed for the visual phonetic categories. Lexical knowledge can therefore guide retuning of visual phonetic categories, but lexically guided retuning of auditory phonetic categories is not generalized to visual categories. Rather, listeners adjust auditory and visual phonetic categories to talker idiosyncrasies separately.
  • Murty, L., Otake, T., & Cutler, A. (2007). Perceptual tests of rhythmic similarity: I. Mora Rhythm. Language and Speech, 50(1), 77-99. doi:10.1177/00238309070500010401.

    Abstract

    Listeners rely on native-language rhythm in segmenting speech; in different languages, stress-, syllable- or mora-based rhythm is exploited. The rhythmic similarity hypothesis holds that where two languages have similar rhythm, listeners of each language should segment their own and the other language similarly. Such similarity in listening was previously observed only for related languages (English-Dutch; French-Spanish). We now report three experiments in which speakers of Telugu, a Dravidian language unrelated to Japanese but similar to it in crucial aspects of rhythmic structure, heard speech in Japanese and in their own language, and Japanese listeners heard Telugu. For the Telugu listeners, detection of target sequences in Japanese speech was harder when target boundaries mismatched mora boundaries, exactly the pattern that Japanese listeners earlier exhibited with Japanese and other languages. The same results appeared when Japanese listeners heard Telugu speech containing only codas permissible in Japanese. Telugu listeners' results with Telugu speech were mixed, but the overall pattern revealed correspondences between the response patterns of the two listener groups, as predicted by the rhythmic similarity hypothesis. Telugu and Japanese listeners appear to command similar procedures for speech segmentation, further bolstering the proposal that aspects of language phonological structure affect listeners' speech segmentation.
  • Snijders, T. M., Kooijman, V., Cutler, A., & Hagoort, P. (2007). Neurophysiological evidence of delayed segmentation in a foreign language. Brain Research, 1178, 106-113. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2007.07.080.

    Abstract

    Previous studies have shown that segmentation skills are language-specific, making it difficult to segment continuous speech in an unfamiliar language into its component words. Here we present the first study capturing the delay in segmentation and recognition in the foreign listener using ERPs. We compared the ability of Dutch adults and of English adults without knowledge of Dutch (‘foreign listeners’) to segment familiarized words from continuous Dutch speech. We used the known effect of repetition on the event-related potential (ERP) as an index of recognition of words in continuous speech. Our results show that word repetitions in isolation are recognized with equivalent facility by native and foreign listeners, but word repetitions in continuous speech are not. First, words familiarized in isolation are recognized faster by native than by foreign listeners when they are repeated in continuous speech. Second, when words that have previously been heard only in a continuous-speech context re-occur in continuous speech, the repetition is detected by native listeners, but is not detected by foreign listeners. A preceding speech context facilitates word recognition for native listeners, but delays or even inhibits word recognition for foreign listeners. We propose that the apparent difference in segmentation rate between native and foreign listeners is grounded in the difference in language-specific skills available to the 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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