Anne Cutler †

Publications

Displaying 1 - 23 of 23
  • Alispahic, S., Pellicano, E., Cutler, A., & Antoniou, M. (2022). Auditory perceptual learning in autistic adults. Autism Research. Advance online publication. doi:10.1002/aur.2778.

    Abstract

    The automatic retuning of phoneme categories to better adapt to the speech of a novel talker has been extensively documented across various (neurotypical) populations, including both adults and children. However, no studies have examined auditory perceptual learning effects in populations atypical in perceptual, social, and language processing for communication, such as populations with autism. Employing a classic lexically-guided perceptual learning paradigm, the present study investigated perceptual learning effects in Australian English autistic and non-autistic adults. The findings revealed that automatic attunement to existing phoneme categories was not activated in the autistic group in the same manner as for non-autistic control subjects. Specifically, autistic adults were able to both successfully discern lexical items and to categorize speech sounds; however, they did not show effects of perceptual retuning to talkers. These findings may have implications for the application of current sensory theories (e.g., Bayesian decision theory) to speech and language processing by autistic individuals. Lay Summary Lexically guided perceptual learning assists in the disambiguation of speech from a novel talker. The present study established that while Australian English autistic adult listeners were able to successfully discern lexical items and categorize speech sounds in their native language, perceptual flexibility in updating speaker-specific phonemic knowledge when exposed to a novel talker was not available. Implications for speech and language processing by autistic individuals as well as current sensory theories are discussed.

    Additional information

    data
  • Bruggeman, L., Yu, J., & Cutler, A. (2022). Listener adjustment of stress cue use to fit language vocabulary structure. In S. Frota, M. Cruz, & M. Vigário (Eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2022 (pp. 264-267). doi:10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-54.

    Abstract

    In lexical stress languages, phonemically identical syllables can differ suprasegmentally (in duration, amplitude, F0). Such stress cues allow listeners to speed spoken-word recognition by rejecting mismatching competitors (e.g., unstressed set- in settee rules out stressed set- in setting, setter, settle). Such processing effects have indeed been observed in Spanish, Dutch and German, but English listeners are known to largely ignore stress cues. Dutch and German listeners even outdo English listeners in distinguishing stressed versus unstressed English syllables. This has been attributed to the relative frequency across the stress languages of unstressed syllables with full vowels; in English most unstressed syllables contain schwa, instead, and stress cues on full vowels are thus least often informative in this language. If only informativeness matters, would English listeners who encounter situations where such cues would pay off for them (e.g., learning one of those other stress languages) then shift to using stress cues? Likewise, would stress cue users with English as L2, if mainly using English, shift away from using the cues in English? Here we report tests of these two questions, with each receiving a yes answer. We propose that English listeners’ disregard of stress cues is purely pragmatic.
  • Cutler, A., Ernestus, M., Warner, N., & Weber, A. (2022). Managing speech perception data sets. In B. McDonnell, E. Koller, & L. B. Collister (Eds.), The Open Handbook of Linguistic Data Management (pp. 565-573). Cambrdige, MA, USA: MIT Press. doi:10.7551/mitpress/12200.003.0055.
  • Ip, M. H. K., & Cutler, A. (2022). Juncture prosody across languages: Similar production but dissimilar perception. Laboratory Phonology, 13(1): 5. doi:10.16995/labphon.6464.

    Abstract

    How do speakers of languages with different intonation systems produce and perceive prosodic junctures in sentences with identical structural ambiguity? Native speakers of English and of Mandarin produced potentially ambiguous sentences with a prosodic juncture either earlier in the utterance (e.g., “He gave her # dog biscuits,” “他给她#狗饼干 ”), or later (e.g., “He gave her dog # biscuits,” “他给她狗 #饼干 ”). These productiondata showed that prosodic disambiguation is realised very similarly in the two languages, despite some differences in the degree to which individual juncture cues (e.g., pausing) were favoured. In perception experiments with a new disambiguation task, requiring speeded responses to select the correct meaning for structurally ambiguous sentences, language differences in disambiguation response time appeared: Mandarin speakers correctly disambiguated sentences with earlier juncture faster than those with later juncture, while English speakers showed the reverse. Mandarin-speakers with L2 English did not show their native-language response time pattern when they heard the English ambiguous sentences. Thus even with identical structural ambiguity and identically cued production, prosodic juncture perception across languages can differ.

    Additional information

    supplementary files
  • Liu, L., Yuan, C., Ong, J. H., Tuninetti, A., Antoniou, M., Cutler, A., & Escudero, P. (2022). Learning to perceive non-native tones via distributional training: Effects of task and acoustic cue weighting. Brain Sciences, 12(5): 559. doi:10.3390/brainsci12050559.

    Abstract

    As many distributional learning (DL) studies have shown, adult listeners can achieve discrimination of a difficult non-native contrast after a short repetitive exposure to tokens falling at the extremes of that contrast. Such studies have shown using behavioural methods that a short distributional training can induce perceptual learning of vowel and consonant contrasts. However, much less is known about the neurological correlates of DL, and few studies have examined non-native lexical tone contrasts. Here, Australian-English speakers underwent DL training on a Mandarin tone contrast using behavioural (discrimination, identification) and neural (oddball-EEG) tasks, with listeners hearing either a bimodal or a unimodal distribution. Behavioural results show that listeners learned to discriminate tones after both unimodal and bimodal training; while EEG responses revealed more learning for listeners exposed to the bimodal distribution. Thus, perceptual learning through exposure to brief sound distributions (a) extends to non-native tonal contrasts, and (b) is sensitive to task, phonetic distance, and acoustic cue-weighting. Our findings have implications for models of how auditory and phonetic constraints influence speech learning.

    Additional information

    supplementary material A-D
  • Cutler, A., & Jesse, A. (2021). Word stress in speech perception. In J. S. Pardo, L. C. Nygaard, & D. B. Pisoni (Eds.), The handbook of speech perception (2nd ed., pp. 239-265). Chichester: Wiley.
  • Cutler, A., Aslin, R. N., Gervain, J., & Nespor, M. (Eds.). (2021). Special issue in honor of Jacques Mehler, Cognition's founding editor [Special Issue]. Cognition, 213.
  • Cutler, A., Aslin, R. N., Gervain, J., & Nespor, M. (2021). Special issue in honor of Jacques Mehler, Cognition's founding editor [preface]. Cognition, 213: 104786. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104786.
  • Kember, H., Choi, J., Yu, J., & Cutler, A. (2021). The processing of linguistic prominence. Language and Speech, 64(2), 413-436. doi:10.1177/0023830919880217.

    Abstract

    Prominence, the expression of informational weight within utterances, can be signaled by prosodic highlighting (head-prominence, as in English) or by position (as in Korean edge-prominence). Prominence confers processing advantages, even if conveyed only by discourse manipulations. Here we compared processing of prominence in English and Korean, using a task that indexes processing success, namely recognition memory. In each language, participants’ memory was tested for target words heard in sentences in which they were prominent due to prosody, position, both or neither. Prominence produced recall advantage, but the relative effects differed across language. For Korean listeners the positional advantage was greater, but for English listeners prosodic and syntactic prominence had equivalent and additive effects. In a further experiment semantic and phonological foils tested depth of processing of the recall targets. Both foil types were correctly rejected, suggesting that semantic processing had not reached the level at which word form was no longer available. Together the results suggest that prominence processing is primarily driven by universal effects of information structure; but language-specific differences in frequency of experience prompt different relative advantages of prominence signal types. Processing efficiency increases in each case, however, creating more accurate and more rapidly contactable memory representations.
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2021). More why, less how: What we need from models of cognition. Cognition, 213: 104688. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104688.

    Abstract

    Science regularly experiences periods in which simply describing the world is prioritised over attempting to explain it. Cognition, this journal, came into being some 45 years ago as an attempt to lay one such period to rest; without doubt, it has helped create the current cognitive science climate in which theory is decidedly welcome. Here we summarise the reasons why a theoretical approach is imperative in our field, and call attention to some potentially counter-productive trends in which cognitive models are concerned too exclusively with how processes work at the expense of why the processes exist in the first place and thus what the goal of modelling them must be.
  • Zhou, W., Broersma, M., & Cutler, A. (2021). Asymmetric memory for birth language perception versus production in young international adoptees. Cognition, 213: 104788. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104788.

    Abstract

    Adults who as children were adopted into a different linguistic community retain knowledge of their birth language. The possession (without awareness) of such knowledge is known to facilitate the (re)learning of birth-language speech patterns; this perceptual learning predicts such adults' production success as well, indicating that the retained linguistic knowledge is abstract in nature. Adoptees' acquisition of their adopted language is fast and complete; birth-language mastery disappears rapidly, although this latter process has been little studied. Here, 46 international adoptees from China aged four to 10 years, with Dutch as their new language, plus 47 matched non-adopted Dutch-native controls and 40 matched non-adopted Chinese controls, undertook across a two-week period 10 blocks of training in perceptually identifying Chinese speech contrasts (one segmental, one tonal) which were unlike any Dutch contrasts. Chinese controls easily accomplished all these tasks. The same participants also provided speech production data in an imitation task. In perception, adoptees and Dutch controls scored equivalently poorly at the outset of training; with training, the adoptees significantly improved while the Dutch controls did not. In production, adoptees' imitations both before and after training could be better identified, and received higher goodness ratings, than those of Dutch controls. The perception results confirm that birth-language knowledge is stored and can facilitate re-learning in post-adoption childhood; the production results suggest that although processing of phonological category detail appears to depend on access to the stored knowledge, general articulatory dimensions can at this age also still be remembered, and may facilitate spoken imitation.

    Additional information

    stimulus materials
  • Cutler, A., Wales, R., Cooper, N., & Janssen, J. (2007). Dutch listeners' use of suprasegmental cues to English stress. In J. Trouvain, & W. J. Barry (Eds.), Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Phonetics Sciences (ICPhS 2007) (pp. 1913-1916). Dudweiler: Pirrot.

    Abstract

    Dutch listeners outperform native listeners in identifying syllable stress in English. This is because lexical stress is more useful in recognition of spoken words of Dutch than of English, so that Dutch listeners pay greater attention to stress in general. We examined Dutch listeners’ use of the acoustic correlates of English stress. Primary- and secondary-stressed syllables differ significantly on acoustic measures, and some differences, in F0 especially, correlate with data of earlier listening experiments. The correlations found in the Dutch responses were not paralleled in data from native listeners. Thus the acoustic cues which distinguish English primary versus secondary stress are better exploited by Dutch than by native listeners.
  • Cutler, A., & Weber, A. (2007). Listening experience and phonetic-to-lexical mapping in L2. In J. Trouvain, & W. J. Barry (Eds.), Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2007) (pp. 43-48). Dudweiler: Pirrot.

    Abstract

    In contrast to initial L1 vocabularies, which of necessity depend largely on heard exemplars, L2 vocabulary construction can draw on a variety of knowledge sources. This can lead to richer stored knowledge about the phonology of the L2 than the listener's prelexical phonetic processing capacity can support, and thus to mismatch between the level of detail required for accurate lexical mapping and the level of detail delivered by the prelexical processor. Experiments on spoken word recognition in L2 have shown that phonetic contrasts which are not reliably perceived are represented in the lexicon nonetheless. This lexical representation of contrast must be based on abstract knowledge, not on veridical representation of heard exemplars. New experiments confirm that provision of abstract knowledge (in the form of spelling) can induce lexical representation of a contrast which is not reliably perceived; but also that experience (in the form of frequency of occurrence) modulates the mismatch of phonetic and lexical processing. We conclude that a correct account of word recognition in L2 (as indeed in L1) requires consideration of both abstract and episodic information.
  • Cutler, A., Cooke, M., Garcia-Lecumberri, M. L., & Pasveer, D. (2007). L2 consonant identification in noise: Cross-language comparisons. In H. van Hamme, & R. van Son (Eds.), Proceedings of Interspeech 2007 (pp. 1585-1588). Adelaide: Causal productions.

    Abstract

    The difficulty of listening to speech in noise is exacerbated when the speech is in the listener’s L2 rather than L1. In this study, Spanish and Dutch users of English as an L2 identified American English consonants in a constant intervocalic context. Their performance was compared with that of L1 (British English) listeners, under quiet conditions and when the speech was masked by speech from another talker or by noise. Masking affected performance more for the Spanish listeners than for the L1 listeners, but not for the Dutch listeners, whose performance was worse than the L1 case to about the same degree in all conditions. There were, however,large differences in the pattern of results across individual consonants, which were consistent with differences in how consonants are identified in the respective L1s.
  • 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.
  • Tuinman, A., Mitterer, H., & Cutler, A. (2007). Speakers differentiate English intrusive and onset /r/, but L2 listeners do not. In J. Trouvain, & W. J. Barry (Eds.), Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2007) (pp. 1905-1908). Dudweiler: Pirrot.

    Abstract

    We investigated whether non-native listeners can exploit phonetic detail in recognizing potentially ambiguous utterances, as native listeners can [6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. Due to the phenomenon of intrusive /r/, the English phrase extra ice may sound like extra rice. A production study indicates that the intrusive /r/ can be distinguished from the onset /r/ in rice, as it is phonetically weaker. In two cross-modal identity priming studies, however, we found no conclusive evidence that Dutch learners of English are able to make use of this difference. Instead, auditory primes such as extra rice and extra ice with onset and intrusive /r/s activate both types of targets such as ice and rice. This supports the notion of spurious lexical activation in L2 perception.
  • Cutler, A., & Fear, B. D. (1991). Categoricality in acceptability judgements for strong versus weak vowels. In J. Llisterri (Ed.), Proceedings of the ESCA Workshop on Phonetics and Phonology of Speaking Styles (pp. 18.1-18.5). Barcelona, Catalonia: Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona.

    Abstract

    A distinction between strong and weak vowels can be drawn on the basis of vowel quality, of stress, or of both factors. An experiment was conducted in which sets of contextually matched word-intial vowels ranging from clearly strong to clearly weak were cross-spliced, and the naturalness of the resulting words was rated by listeners. The ratings showed that in general cross-spliced words were only significantly less acceptable than unspliced words when schwa was not involved; this supports a categorical distinction based on vowel quality.
  • Cutler, A. (1991). Proceed with caution. New Scientist, (1799), 53-54.
  • Cutler, A. (1991). Prosody in situations of communication: Salience and segmentation. In Proceedings of the Twelfth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences: Vol. 1 (pp. 264-270). Aix-en-Provence: Université de Provence, Service des publications.

    Abstract

    Speakers and listeners have a shared goal: to communicate. The processes of speech perception and of speech production interact in many ways under the constraints of this communicative goal; such interaction is as characteristic of prosodic processing as of the processing of other aspects of linguistic structure. Two of the major uses of prosodic information in situations of communication are to encode salience and segmentation, and these themes unite the contributions to the symposium introduced by the present review.
  • Cutler, A. (1991). Linguistic rhythm and speech segmentation. In J. Sundberg, L. Nord, & R. Carlson (Eds.), Music, language, speech and brain (pp. 157-166). London: Macmillan.
  • Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1991). Word boundary cues in clear speech: A supplementary report. Speech Communication, 10, 335-353. doi:10.1016/0167-6393(91)90002-B.

    Abstract

    One of a listener's major tasks in understanding continuous speech is segmenting the speech signal into separate words. When listening conditions are difficult, speakers can help listeners by deliberately speaking more clearly. In four experiments, we examined how word boundaries are produced in deliberately clear speech. In an earlier report we showed that speakers do indeed mark word boundaries in clear speech, by pausing at the boundary and lengthening pre-boundary syllables; moreover, these effects are applied particularly to boundaries preceding weak syllables. In English, listeners use segmentation procedures which make word boundaries before strong syllables easier to perceive; thus marking word boundaries before weak syllables in clear speech will make clear precisely those boundaries which are otherwise hard to perceive. The present report presents supplementary data, namely prosodic analyses of the syllable following a critical word boundary. More lengthening and greater increases in intensity were applied in clear speech to weak syllables than to strong. Mean F0 was also increased to a greater extent on weak syllables than on strong. Pitch movement, however, increased to a greater extent on strong syllables than on weak. The effects were, however, very small in comparison to the durational effects we observed earlier for syllables preceding the boundary and for pauses at the boundary.
  • Van Ooijen, B., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (1991). Detection times for vowels versus consonants. In Eurospeech 91: Vol. 3 (pp. 1451-1454). Genova: Istituto Internazionale delle Comunicazioni.

    Abstract

    This paper reports two experiments with vowels and consonants as phoneme detection targets in real words. In the first experiment, two relatively distinct vowels were compared with two confusible stop consonants. Response times to the vowels were longer than to the consonants. Response times correlated negatively with target phoneme length. In the second, two relatively distinct vowels were compared with their corresponding semivowels. This time, the vowels were detected faster than the semivowels. We conclude that response time differences between vowels and stop consonants in this task may reflect differences between phoneme categories in the variability of tokens, both in the acoustic realisation of targets and in the' representation of targets by subjects.

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