Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 29 of 29
  • Asano, Y., Yuan, C., Grohe, A.-K., Weber, A., Antoniou, M., & Cutler, A. (2020). Uptalk interpretation as a function of listening experience. In N. Minematsu, M. Kondo, T. Arai, & R. Hayashi (Eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2020 (pp. 735-739). Tokyo: ISCA. doi:10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-150.

    Abstract

    The term “uptalk” describes utterance-final pitch rises that carry no sentence-structural information. Uptalk is usually dialectal or sociolectal, and Australian English (AusEng) is particularly known for this attribute. We ask here whether experience with an uptalk variety affects listeners’ ability to categorise rising pitch contours on the basis of the timing and height of their onset and offset. Listeners were two groups of English-speakers (AusEng, and American English), and three groups of listeners with L2 English: one group with Mandarin as L1 and experience of listening to AusEng, one with German as L1 and experience of listening to AusEng, and one with German as L1 but no AusEng experience. They heard nouns (e.g. flower, piano) in the framework “Got a NOUN”, each ending with a pitch rise artificially manipulated on three contrasts: low vs. high rise onset, low vs. high rise offset and early vs. late rise onset. Their task was to categorise the tokens as “question” or “statement”, and we analysed the effect of the pitch contrasts on their judgements. Only the native AusEng listeners were able to use the pitch contrasts systematically in making these categorisations.
  • Bruggeman, L., & Cutler, A. (2020). No L1 privilege in talker adaptation. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 23(3), 681-693. doi:10.1017/S1366728919000646.

    Abstract

    As a rule, listening is easier in first (L1) than second languages (L2); difficult L2 listening can challenge even highly proficient users. We here examine one particular listening function, adaptation to novel talkers, in such a high-proficiency population: Dutch emigrants to Australia, predominantly using English outside the family, but all also retaining L1 proficiency. Using lexically-guided perceptual learning (Norris, McQueen & Cutler, 2003), we investigated these listeners’ adaptation to an ambiguous speech sound, in parallel experiments in both their L1 and their L2. A control study established that perceptual learning outcomes were unaffected by the procedural measures required for this double comparison. The emigrants showed equivalent proficiency in tests in both languages, robust perceptual adaptation in their L2, English, but no adaptation in L1. We propose that adaptation to novel talkers is a language-specific skill requiring regular novel practice; a limited set of known (family) interlocutors cannot meet this requirement.
  • Ip, M. H. K., & Cutler, A. (2020). Universals of listening: Equivalent prosodic entrainment in tone and non-tone languages. Cognition, 202: 104311. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104311.

    Abstract

    In English and Dutch, listeners entrain to prosodic contours to predict where focus will fall in an utterance. Here, we ask whether this strategy is universally available, even in languages with very different phonological systems (e.g., tone versus non-tone languages). In a phoneme detection experiment, we examined whether prosodic entrainment also occurs in Mandarin Chinese, a tone language, where the use of various suprasegmental cues to lexical identity may take precedence over their use in salience. Consistent with the results from Germanic languages, response times were facilitated when preceding intonation predicted high stress on the target-bearing word, and the lexical tone of the target word (i.e., rising versus falling) did not affect the Mandarin listeners' response. Further, the extent to which prosodic entrainment was used to detect the target phoneme was the same in both English and Mandarin listeners. Nevertheless, native Mandarin speakers did not adopt an entrainment strategy when the sentences were presented in English, consistent with the suggestion that L2 listening may be strained by additional functional load from prosodic processing. These findings have implications for how universal and language-specific mechanisms interact in the perception of focus structure in everyday discourse.

    Additional information

    supplementary data
  • Yu, J., Mailhammer, R., & Cutler, A. (2020). Vocabulary structure affects word recognition: Evidence from German listeners. In N. Minematsu, M. Kondo, T. Arai, & R. Hayashi (Eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2020 (pp. 474-478). Tokyo: ISCA. doi:10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-97.

    Abstract

    Lexical stress is realised similarly in English, German, and Dutch. On a suprasegmental level, stressed syllables tend to be longer and more acoustically salient than unstressed syllables; segmentally, vowels in unstressed syllables are often reduced. The frequency of unreduced unstressed syllables (where only the suprasegmental cues indicate lack of stress) however, differs across the languages. The present studies test whether listener behaviour is affected by these vocabulary differences, by investigating German listeners’ use of suprasegmental cues to lexical stress in German and English word recognition. In a forced-choice identification task, German listeners correctly assigned single-syllable fragments (e.g., Kon-) to one of two words differing in stress (KONto, konZEPT). Thus, German listeners can exploit suprasegmental information for identifying words. German listeners also performed above chance in a similar task in English (with, e.g., DIver, diVERT), i.e., their sensitivity to these cues also transferred to a nonnative language. An English listener group, in contrast, failed in the English fragment task. These findings mirror vocabulary patterns: German has more words with unreduced unstressed syllables than English does.
  • Mandal, S., Best, C. T., Shaw, J., & Cutler, A. (2020). Bilingual phonology in dichotic perception: A case study of Malayalam and English voicing. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 5(1): 73. doi:10.5334/gjgl.853.

    Abstract

    Listeners often experience cocktail-party situations, encountering multiple ongoing conversa- tions while tracking just one. Capturing the words spoken under such conditions requires selec- tive attention and processing, which involves using phonetic details to discern phonological structure. How do bilinguals accomplish this in L1-L2 competition? We addressed that question using a dichotic listening task with fluent Malayalam-English bilinguals, in which they were pre- sented with synchronized nonce words, one in each language in separate ears, with competing onsets of a labial stop (Malayalam) and a labial fricative (English), both voiced or both voiceless. They were required to attend to the Malayalam or the English item, in separate blocks, and report the initial consonant they heard. We found that perceptual intrusions from the unattended to the attended language were influenced by voicing, with more intrusions on voiced than voiceless tri- als. This result supports our proposal for the feature specification of consonants in Malayalam- English bilinguals, which makes use of privative features, underspecification and the “standard approach” to laryngeal features, as against “laryngeal realism”. Given this representational account, we observe that intrusions result from phonetic properties in the unattended signal being assimilated to the closest matching phonological category in the attended language, and are more likely for segments with a greater number of phonological feature specifications.
  • Ullas, S., Formisano, E., Eisner, F., & Cutler, A. (2020). Audiovisual and lexical cues do not additively enhance perceptual adaptation. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 27, 707-715. doi:10.3758/s13423-020-01728-5.

    Abstract

    When listeners experience difficulty in understanding a speaker, lexical and audiovisual (or lipreading) information can be a helpful source of guidance. These two types of information embedded in speech can also guide perceptual adjustment, also known as recalibration or perceptual retuning. With retuning or recalibration, listeners can use these contextual cues to temporarily or permanently reconfigure internal representations of phoneme categories to adjust to and understand novel interlocutors more easily. These two types of perceptual learning, previously investigated in large part separately, are highly similar in allowing listeners to use speech-external information to make phoneme boundary adjustments. This study explored whether the two sources may work in conjunction to induce adaptation, thus emulating real life, in which listeners are indeed likely to encounter both types of cue together. Listeners who received combined audiovisual and lexical cues showed perceptual learning effects similar to listeners who only received audiovisual cues, while listeners who received only lexical cues showed weaker effects compared with the two other groups. The combination of cues did not lead to additive retuning or recalibration effects, suggesting that lexical and audiovisual cues operate differently with regard to how listeners use them for reshaping perceptual categories. Reaction times did not significantly differ across the three conditions, so none of the forms of adjustment were either aided or hindered by processing time differences. Mechanisms underlying these forms of perceptual learning may diverge in numerous ways despite similarities in experimental applications.

    Additional information

    Data and materials
  • Ullas, S., Formisano, E., Eisner, F., & Cutler, A. (2020). Interleaved lexical and audiovisual information can retune phoneme boundaries. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 82, 2018-2026. doi:10.3758/s13414-019-01961-8.

    Abstract

    To adapt to situations in which speech perception is difficult, listeners can adjust boundaries between phoneme categories using perceptual learning. Such adjustments can draw on lexical information in surrounding speech, or on visual cues via speech-reading. In the present study, listeners proved they were able to flexibly adjust the boundary between two plosive/stop consonants, /p/-/t/, using both lexical and speech-reading information and given the same experimental design for both cue types. Videos of a speaker pronouncing pseudo-words and audio recordings of Dutch words were presented in alternating blocks of either stimulus type. Listeners were able to switch between cues to adjust phoneme boundaries, and resulting effects were comparable to results from listeners receiving only a single source of information. Overall, audiovisual cues (i.e., the videos) produced the stronger effects, commensurate with their applicability for adapting to noisy environments. Lexical cues were able to induce effects with fewer exposure stimuli and a changing phoneme bias, in a design unlike most prior studies of lexical retuning. While lexical retuning effects were relatively weaker compared to audiovisual recalibration, this discrepancy could reflect how lexical retuning may be more suitable for adapting to speakers than to environments. Nonetheless, the presence of the lexical retuning effects suggests that it may be invoked at a faster rate than previously seen. In general, this technique has further illuminated the robustness of adaptability in speech perception, and offers the potential to enable further comparisons across differing forms of perceptual learning.
  • Ullas, S., Hausfeld, L., Cutler, A., Eisner, F., & Formisano, E. (2020). Neural correlates of phonetic adaptation as induced by lexical and audiovisual context. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 32(11), 2145-2158. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_01608.

    Abstract

    When speech perception is difficult, one way listeners adjust is by reconfiguring phoneme category boundaries, drawing on contextual information. Both lexical knowledge and lipreading cues are used in this way, but it remains unknown whether these two differing forms of perceptual learning are similar at a neural level. This study compared phoneme boundary adjustments driven by lexical or audiovisual cues, using ultra-high-field 7-T fMRI. During imaging, participants heard exposure stimuli and test stimuli. Exposure stimuli for lexical retuning were audio recordings of words, and those for audiovisual recalibration were audio–video recordings of lip movements during utterances of pseudowords. Test stimuli were ambiguous phonetic strings presented without context, and listeners reported what phoneme they heard. Reports reflected phoneme biases in preceding exposure blocks (e.g., more reported /p/ after /p/-biased exposure). Analysis of corresponding brain responses indicated that both forms of cue use were associated with a network of activity across the temporal cortex, plus parietal, insula, and motor areas. Audiovisual recalibration also elicited significant occipital cortex activity despite the lack of visual stimuli. Activity levels in several ROIs also covaried with strength of audiovisual recalibration, with greater activity accompanying larger recalibration shifts. Similar activation patterns appeared for lexical retuning, but here, no significant ROIs were identified. Audiovisual and lexical forms of perceptual learning thus induce largely similar brain response patterns. However, audiovisual recalibration involves additional visual cortex contributions, suggesting that previously acquired visual information (on lip movements) is retrieved and deployed to disambiguate auditory perception.
  • Bruggeman, L., & Cutler, A. (2016). Lexical manipulation as a discovery tool for psycholinguistic research. In C. Carignan, & M. D. Tyler (Eds.), Proceedings of the 16th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (SST2016) (pp. 313-316).
  • 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.
  • Ip, M., & Cutler, A. (2016). Cross-language data on five types of prosodic focus. In J. Barnes, A. Brugos, S. Shattuck-Hufnagel, & N. Veilleux (Eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2016 (pp. 330-334).

    Abstract

    To examine the relative roles of language-specific and language-universal mechanisms in the production of prosodic focus, we compared production of five different types of focus by native speakers of English and Mandarin. Two comparable dialogues were constructed for each language, with the same words appearing in focused and unfocused position; 24 speakers recorded each dialogue in each language. Duration, F0 (mean, maximum, range), and rms-intensity (mean, maximum) of all critical word tokens were measured. Across the different types of focus, cross-language differences were observed in the degree to which English versus Mandarin speakers use the different prosodic parameters to mark focus, suggesting that while prosody may be universally available for expressing focus, the means of its employment may be considerably language-specific
  • Jeske, J., Kember, H., & Cutler, A. (2016). Native and non-native English speakers' use of prosody to predict sentence endings. In Proceedings of the 16th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (SST2016).
  • Kember, H., Choi, J., & Cutler, A. (2016). Processing advantages for focused words in Korean. In J. Barnes, A. Brugos, S. Shattuck-Hufnagel, & N. Veilleux (Eds.), Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2016 (pp. 702-705).

    Abstract

    In Korean, focus is expressed in accentual phrasing. To ascertain whether words focused in this manner enjoy a processing advantage analogous to that conferred by focus as expressed in, e.g, English and Dutch, we devised sentences with target words in one of four conditions: prosodic focus, syntactic focus, prosodic + syntactic focus, and no focus as a control. 32 native speakers of Korean listened to blocks of 10 sentences, then were presented visually with words and asked whether or not they had heard them. Overall, words with focus were recognised significantly faster and more accurately than unfocused words. In addition, words with syntactic focus or syntactic + prosodic focus were recognised faster than words with prosodic focus alone. As for other languages, Korean focus confers processing advantage on the words carrying it. While prosodic focus does provide an advantage, however, syntactic focus appears to provide the greater beneficial effect for recognition memory
  • 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.
  • Allerhand, M., Butterfield, S., Cutler, A., & Patterson, R. (1992). Assessing syllable strength via an auditory model. In Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics: Vol. 14 Part 6 (pp. 297-304). St. Albans, Herts: Institute of Acoustics.
  • Cutler, A. (1992). Cross-linguistic differences in speech segmentation. MRC News, 56, 8-9.
  • Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (1992). Detection of vowels and consonants with minimal acoustic variation. Speech Communication, 11, 101-108. doi:10.1016/0167-6393(92)90004-Q.

    Abstract

    Previous research has shown that, in a phoneme detection task, vowels produce longer reaction times than consonants, suggesting that they are harder to perceive. One possible explanation for this difference is based upon their respective acoustic/articulatory characteristics. Another way of accounting for the findings would be to relate them to the differential functioning of vowels and consonants in the syllabic structure of words. In this experiment, we examined the second possibility. Targets were two pairs of phonemes, each containing a vowel and a consonant with similar phonetic characteristics. Subjects heard lists of English words had to press a response key upon detecting the occurrence of a pre-specified target. This time, the phonemes which functioned as vowels in syllabic structure yielded shorter reaction times than those which functioned as consonants. This rules out an explanation for response time difference between vowels and consonants in terms of function in syllable structure. Instead, we propose that consonantal and vocalic segments differ with respect to variability of tokens, both in the acoustic realisation of targets and in the representation of targets by listeners.
  • Cutler, A., Kearns, R., Norris, D., & Scott, D. (1992). Listeners’ responses to extraneous signals coincident with English and French speech. In J. Pittam (Ed.), Proceedings of the 4th Australian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (pp. 666-671). Canberra: Australian Speech Science and Technology Association.

    Abstract

    English and French listeners performed two tasks - click location and speeded click detection - with both English and French sentences, closely matched for syntactic and phonological structure. Clicks were located more accurately in open- than in closed-class words in both English and French; they were detected more rapidly in open- than in closed-class words in English, but not in French. The two listener groups produced the same pattern of responses, suggesting that higher-level linguistic processing was not involved in these tasks.
  • Cutler, A. (1992). Proceedings with confidence. New Scientist, (1825), 54.
  • Cutler, A. (1992). Processing constraints of the native phonological repertoire on the native language. In Y. Tohkura, E. Vatikiotis-Bateson, & Y. Sagisaka (Eds.), Speech perception, production and linguistic structure (pp. 275-278). Tokyo: Ohmsha.
  • Cutler, A., & Butterfield, S. (1992). Rhythmic cues to speech segmentation: Evidence from juncture misperception. Journal of Memory and Language, 31, 218-236. doi:10.1016/0749-596X(92)90012-M.

    Abstract

    Segmentation of continuous speech into its component words is a nontrivial task for listeners. Previous work has suggested that listeners develop heuristic segmentation procedures based on experience with the structure of their language; for English, the heuristic is that strong syllables (containing full vowels) are most likely to be the initial syllables of lexical words, whereas weak syllables (containing central, or reduced, vowels) are nonword-initial, or, if word-initial, are grammatical words. This hypothesis is here tested against natural and laboratory-induced missegmentations of continuous speech. Precisely the expected pattern is found: listeners erroneously insert boundaries before strong syllables but delete them before weak syllables; boundaries inserted before strong syllables produce lexical words, while boundaries inserted before weak syllables produce grammatical words.
  • Cutler, A., & Robinson, T. (1992). Response time as a metric for comparison of speech recognition by humans and machines. In J. Ohala, T. Neary, & B. Derwing (Eds.), Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Spoken Language Processing: Vol. 1 (pp. 189-192). Alberta: University of Alberta.

    Abstract

    The performance of automatic speech recognition systems is usually assessed in terms of error rate. Human speech recognition produces few errors, but relative difficulty of processing can be assessed via response time techniques. We report the construction of a measure analogous to response time in a machine recognition system. This measure may be compared directly with human response times. We conducted a trial comparison of this type at the phoneme level, including both tense and lax vowels and a variety of consonant classes. The results suggested similarities between human and machine processing in the case of consonants, but differences in the case of vowels.
  • Cutler, A. (1992). Psychology and the segment. In G. Docherty, & D. Ladd (Eds.), Papers in laboratory phonology II: Gesture, segment, prosody (pp. 290-295). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (1992). The monolingual nature of speech segmentation by bilinguals. Cognitive Psychology, 24, 381-410.

    Abstract

    Monolingual French speakers employ a syllable-based procedure in speech segmentation; monolingual English speakers use a stress-based segmentation procedure and do not use the syllable-based procedure. In the present study French-English bilinguals participated in segmentation experiments with English and French materials. Their results as a group did not simply mimic the performance of English monolinguals with English language materials and of French monolinguals with French language materials. Instead, the bilinguals formed two groups, defined by forced choice of a dominant language. Only the French-dominant group showed syllabic segmentation and only with French language materials. The English-dominant group showed no syllabic segmentation in either language. However, the English-dominant group showed stress-based segmentation with English language materials; the French-dominant group did not. We argue that rhythmically based segmentation procedures are mutually exclusive, as a consequence of which speech segmentation by bilinguals is, in one respect at least, functionally monolingual.
  • Cutler, A. (1992). The production and perception of word boundaries. In Y. Tohkura, E. Vatikiotis-Bateson, & Y. Sagisaka (Eds.), Speech perception, production and linguistic structure (pp. 419-425). Tokyo: Ohsma.
  • Cutler, A. (1992). The perception of speech: Psycholinguistic aspects. In W. Bright (Ed.), International encyclopedia of language: Vol. 3 (pp. 181-183). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Cutler, A. (1992). Why not abolish psycholinguistics? In W. Dressler, H. Luschützky, O. Pfeiffer, & J. Rennison (Eds.), Phonologica 1988 (pp. 77-87). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (1992). Words within words: Lexical statistics and lexical access. In J. Ohala, T. Neary, & B. Derwing (Eds.), Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Spoken Language Processing: Vol. 1 (pp. 221-224). Alberta: University of Alberta.

    Abstract

    This paper presents lexical statistics on the pattern of occurrence of words embedded in other words. We report the results of an analysis of 25000 words, varying in length from two to six syllables, extracted from a phonetically-coded English dictionary (The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English). Each syllable, and each string of syllables within each word was checked against the dictionary. Two analyses are presented: the first used a complete list of polysyllables, with look-up on the entire dictionary; the second used a sublist of content words, counting only embedded words which were themselves content words. The results have important implications for models of human speech recognition. The efficiency of these models depends, in different ways, on the number and location of words within words.
  • Norris, D., Van Ooijen, B., & Cutler, A. (1992). Speeded detection of vowels and steady-state consonants. In J. Ohala, T. Neary, & B. Derwing (Eds.), Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Spoken Language Processing; Vol. 2 (pp. 1055-1058). Alberta: University of Alberta.

    Abstract

    We report two experiments in which vowels and steady-state consonants served as targets in a speeded detection task. In the first experiment, two vowels were compared with one voiced and once unvoiced fricative. Response times (RTs) to the vowels were longer than to the fricatives. The error rate was higher for the consonants. Consonants in word-final position produced the shortest RTs, For the vowels, RT correlated negatively with target duration. In the second experiment, the same two vowel targets were compared with two nasals. This time there was no significant difference in RTs, but the error rate was still significantly higher for the consonants. Error rate and length correlated negatively for the vowels only. We conclude that RT differences between phonemes are independent of vocalic or consonantal status. Instead, we argue that the process of phoneme detection reflects more finely grained differences in acoustic/articulatory structure within the phonemic repertoire.

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