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.
  • 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.
  • 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., 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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