Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12
  • 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. (2010). Abstraction-based efficiency in the lexicon. Laboratory Phonology, 1(2), 301-318. doi:10.1515/LABPHON.2010.016.

    Abstract

    Listeners learn from their past experience of listening to spoken words, and use this learning to maximise the efficiency of future word recognition. This paper summarises evidence that the facilitatory effects of drawing on past experience are mediated by abstraction, enabling learning to be generalised across new words and new listening situations. Phoneme category retuning, which allows adaptation to speaker-specific articulatory characteristics, is generalised on the basis of relatively brief experience to words previously unheard from that speaker. Abstract knowledge of prosodic regularities is applied to recognition even of novel words for which these regularities were violated. Prosodic word-boundary regularities drive segmentation of speech into words independently of the membership of the lexical candidate set resulting from the segmentation operation. Each of these different cases illustrates how abstraction from past listening experience has contributed to the efficiency of lexical recognition.
  • Cutler, A., Cooke, M., & Lecumberri, M. L. G. (2010). Preface. Speech Communication, 52, 863. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2010.11.003.

    Abstract

    Adverse listening conditions always make the perception of speech harder, but their deleterious effect is far greater if the speech we are trying to understand is in a non-native language. An imperfect signal can be coped with by recourse to the extensive knowledge one has of a native language, and imperfect knowledge of a non-native language can still support useful communication when speech signals are high-quality. But the combination of imperfect signal and imperfect knowledge leads rapidly to communication breakdown. This phenomenon is undoubtedly well known to every reader of Speech Communication from personal experience. Many readers will also have a professional interest in explaining, or remedying, the problems it produces. The journal’s readership being a decidedly interdisciplinary one, this interest will involve quite varied scientific approaches, including (but not limited to) modelling the interaction of first and second language vocabularies and phonemic repertoires, developing targeted listening training for language learners, and redesigning the acoustics of classrooms and conference halls. In other words, the phenomenon that this special issue deals with is a well-known one, that raises important scientific and practical questions across a range of speech communication disciplines, and Speech Communication is arguably the ideal vehicle for presentation of such a breadth of approaches in a single volume. The call for papers for this issue elicited a large number of submissions from across the full range of the journal’s interdisciplinary scope, requiring the guest editors to apply very strict criteria to the final selection. Perhaps unique in the history of treatments of this topic is the combination represented by the guest editors for this issue: a phonetician whose primary research interest is in second-language speech (MLGL), an engineer whose primary research field is the acoustics of masking in speech processing (MC), and a psychologist whose primary research topic is the recognition of spoken words (AC). In the opening article of the issue, these three authors together review the existing literature on listening to second-language speech under adverse conditions, bringing together these differing perspectives for the first time in a single contribution. The introductory review is followed by 13 new experimental reports of phonetic, acoustic and psychological studies of the topic. The guest editors thank Speech Communication editor Marc Swerts and the journal’s team at Elsevier, as well as all the reviewers who devoted time and expert efforts to perfecting the contributions to this issue.
  • Cutler, A., Treiman, R., & Van Ooijen, B. (2010). Strategic deployment of orthographic knowledge in phoneme detection. Language and Speech, 53(3), 307 -320. doi:10.1177/0023830910371445.

    Abstract

    The phoneme detection task is widely used in spoken-word recognition research. Alphabetically literate participants, however, are more used to explicit representations of letters than of phonemes. The present study explored whether phoneme detection is sensitive to how target phonemes are, or may be, orthographically realized. Listeners detected the target sounds [b, m, t, f, s, k] in word-initial position in sequences of isolated English words. Response times were faster to the targets [b, m, t], which have consistent word-initial spelling, than to the targets [f, s, k], which are inconsistently spelled, but only when spelling was rendered salient by the presence in the experiment of many irregularly spelled filler words. Within the inconsistent targets [f, s, k], there was no significant difference between responses to targets in words with more usual (foam, seed, cattle) versus less usual (phone, cede, kettle) spellings. Phoneme detection is thus not necessarily sensitive to orthographic effects; knowledge of spelling stored in the lexical representations of words does not automatically become available as word candidates are activated. However, salient orthographic manipulations in experimental input can induce such sensitivity. We attribute this to listeners' experience of the value of spelling in everyday situations that encourage phonemic decisions (such as learning new names)
  • Lecumberri, M. L. G., Cooke, M., & Cutler, A. (2010). Non-native speech perception in adverse conditions: A review. Speech Communication, 52, 864-886. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2010.08.014.

    Abstract

    If listening in adverse conditions is hard, then listening in a foreign language is doubly so: non-native listeners have to cope with both imperfect signals and imperfect knowledge. Comparison of native and non-native listener performance in speech-in-noise tasks helps to clarify the role of prior linguistic experience in speech perception, and, more directly, contributes to an understanding of the problems faced by language learners in everyday listening situations. This article reviews experimental studies on non-native listening in adverse conditions, organised around three principal contributory factors: the task facing listeners, the effect of adverse conditions on speech, and the differences among listener populations. Based on a comprehensive tabulation of key studies, we identify robust findings, research trends and gaps in current knowledge.
  • Cutler, A. (2009). Greater sensitivity to prosodic goodness in non-native than in native listeners. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 125, 3522-3525. doi:10.1121/1.3117434.

    Abstract

    English listeners largely disregard suprasegmental cues to stress in recognizing words. Evidence for this includes the demonstration of Fear et al. [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 97, 1893–1904 (1995)] that cross-splicings are tolerated between stressed and unstressed full vowels (e.g., au- of autumn, automata). Dutch listeners, however, do exploit suprasegmental stress cues in recognizing native-language words. In this study, Dutch listeners were presented with English materials from the study of Fear et al. Acceptability ratings by these listeners revealed sensitivity to suprasegmental mismatch, in particular, in replacements of unstressed full vowels by higher-stressed vowels, thus evincing greater sensitivity to prosodic goodness than had been shown by the original native listener group.
  • Cutler, A., Otake, T., & McQueen, J. M. (2009). Vowel devoicing and the perception of spoken Japanese words. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 125(3), 1693-1703. doi:10.1121/1.3075556.

    Abstract

    Three experiments, in which Japanese listeners detected Japanese words embedded in nonsense sequences, examined the perceptual consequences of vowel devoicing in that language. Since vowelless sequences disrupt speech segmentation [Norris et al. (1997). Cognit. Psychol. 34, 191– 243], devoicing is potentially problematic for perception. Words in initial position in nonsense sequences were detected more easily when followed by a sequence containing a vowel than by a vowelless segment (with or without further context), and vowelless segments that were potential devoicing environments were no easier than those not allowing devoicing. Thus asa, “morning,” was easier in asau or asazu than in all of asap, asapdo, asaf, or asafte, despite the fact that the /f/ in the latter two is a possible realization of fu, with devoiced [u]. Japanese listeners thus do not treat devoicing contexts as if they always contain vowels. Words in final position in nonsense sequences, however, produced a different pattern: here, preceding vowelless contexts allowing devoicing impeded word detection less strongly (so, sake was detected less accurately, but not less rapidly, in nyaksake—possibly arising from nyakusake—than in nyagusake). This is consistent with listeners treating consonant sequences as potential realizations of parts of existing lexical candidates wherever possible.
  • Kooijman, V., Hagoort, P., & Cutler, A. (2009). Prosodic structure in early word segmentation: ERP evidence from Dutch ten-month-olds. Infancy, 14, 591 -612. doi:10.1080/15250000903263957.

    Abstract

    Recognizing word boundaries in continuous speech requires detailed knowledge of the native language. In the first year of life, infants acquire considerable word segmentation abilities. Infants at this early stage in word segmentation rely to a large extent on the metrical pattern of their native language, at least in stress-based languages. In Dutch and English (both languages with a preferred trochaic stress pattern), segmentation of strong-weak words develops rapidly between 7 and 10 months of age. Nevertheless, trochaic languages contain not only strong-weak words but also words with a weak-strong stress pattern. In this article, we present electrophysiological evidence of the beginnings of weak-strong word segmentation in Dutch 10-month-olds. At this age, the ability to combine different cues for efficient word segmentation does not yet seem to be completely developed. We provide evidence that Dutch infants still largely rely on strong syllables, even for the segmentation of weak-strong words.
  • Tyler, M., & Cutler, A. (2009). Cross-language differences in cue use for speech segmentation. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 126, 367-376. doi:10.1121/1.3129127.

    Abstract

    Two artificial-language learning experiments directly compared English, French, and Dutch listeners’ use of suprasegmental cues for continuous-speech segmentation. In both experiments, listeners heard unbroken sequences of consonant-vowel syllables, composed of recurring three- and four-syllable “words.” These words were demarcated by(a) no cue other than transitional probabilities induced by their recurrence, (b) a consistent left-edge cue, or (c) a consistent right-edge cue. Experiment 1 examined a vowel lengthening cue. All three listener groups benefited from this cue in right-edge position; none benefited from it in left-edge position. Experiment 2 examined a pitch-movement cue. English listeners used this cue in left-edge position, French listeners used it in right-edge position, and Dutch listeners used it in both positions. These findings are interpreted as evidence of both language-universal and language-specific effects. Final lengthening is a language-universal effect expressing a more general (non-linguistic) mechanism. Pitch movement expresses prominence which has characteristically different placements across languages: typically at right edges in French, but at left edges in English and Dutch. Finally, stress realization in English versus Dutch encourages greater attention to suprasegmental variation by Dutch than by English listeners, allowing Dutch listeners to benefit from an informative pitch-movement cue even in an uncharacteristic position.
  • 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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