Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 16 of 16
  • 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.
  • Cutler, A. (1994). How human speech recognition is affected by phonological diversity among languages. In R. Togneri (Ed.), Proceedings of the fifth Australian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology: Vol. 1 (pp. 285-288). Canberra: Australian Speech Science and Technology Association.

    Abstract

    Listeners process spoken language in ways which are adapted to the phonological structure of their native language. As a consequence, non-native speakers do not listen to a language in the same way as native speakers; moreover, listeners may use their native language listening procedures inappropriately with foreign input. With sufficient experience, however, it may be possible to inhibit this latter (counter-productive) behavior.
  • Cutler, A., & Young, D. (1994). Rhythmic structure of word blends in English. In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (pp. 1407-1410). Kobe: Acoustical Society of Japan.

    Abstract

    Word blends combine fragments from two words, either in speech errors or when a new word is created. Previous work has demonstrated that in Japanese, such blends preserve moraic structure; in English they do not. A similar effect of moraic structure is observed in perceptual research on segmentation of continuous speech in Japanese; English listeners, by contrast, exploit stress units in segmentation, suggesting that a general rhythmic constraint may underlie both findings. The present study examined whether mis parallel would also hold for word blends. In spontaneous English polysyllabic blends, the source words were significantly more likely to be split before a strong than before a weak (unstressed) syllable, i.e. to be split at a stress unit boundary. In an experiment in which listeners were asked to identify the source words of blends, significantly more correct detections resulted when splits had been made before strong syllables. Word blending, like speech segmentation, appears to be constrained by language rhythm.
  • Cutler, A., Norris, D., & McQueen, J. M. (1994). Modelling lexical access from continuous speech input. Dokkyo International Review, 7, 193-215.

    Abstract

    The recognition of speech involves the segmentation of continuous utterances into their component words. Cross-linguistic evidence is briefly reviewed which suggests that although there are language-specific solutions to this segmentation problem, they have one thing in common: they are all based on language rhythm. In English, segmentation is stress-based: strong syllables are postulated to be the onsets of words. Segmentation, however, can also be achieved by a process of competition between activated lexical hypotheses, as in the Shortlist model. A series of experiments is summarised showing that segmentation of continuous speech depends on both lexical competition and a metrically-guided procedure. In the final section, the implementation of metrical segmentation in the Shortlist model is described: the activation of lexical hypotheses matching strong syllables in the input is boosted and that of hypotheses mismatching strong syllables in the input is penalised.
  • Cutler, A., & Otake, T. (1994). Mora or phoneme? Further evidence for language-specific listening. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 824-844. doi:10.1006/jmla.1994.1039.

    Abstract

    Japanese listeners detect speech sound targets which correspond precisely to a mora (a phonological unit which is the unit of rhythm in Japanese) more easily than targets which do not. English listeners detect medial vowel targets more slowly than consonants. Six phoneme detection experiments investigated these effects in both subject populations, presented with native- and foreign-language input. Japanese listeners produced faster and more accurate responses to moraic than to nonmoraic targets both in Japanese and, where possible, in English; English listeners responded differently. The detection disadvantage for medial vowels appeared with English listeners both in English and in Japanese; again, Japanese listeners responded differently. Some processing operations which listeners apply to speech input are language-specific; these language-specific procedures, appropriate for listening to input in the native language, may be applied to foreign-language input irrespective of whether they remain appropriate.
  • Cutler, A. (1994). The perception of rhythm in language. Cognition, 50, 79-81. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(94)90021-3.
  • Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., Baayen, R. H., & Drexler, H. (1994). Words within words in a real-speech corpus. In R. Togneri (Ed.), Proceedings of the 5th Australian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology: Vol. 1 (pp. 362-367). Canberra: Australian Speech Science and Technology Association.

    Abstract

    In a 50,000-word corpus of spoken British English the occurrence of words embedded within other words is reported. Within-word embedding in this real speech sample is common, and analogous to the extent of embedding observed in the vocabulary. Imposition of a syllable boundary matching constraint reduces but by no means eliminates spurious embedding. Embedded words are most likely to overlap with the beginning of matrix words, and thus may pose serious problems for speech recognisers.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (1994). Competition in spoken word recognition: Spotting words in other words. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 20, 621-638.

    Abstract

    Although word boundaries are rarely clearly marked, listeners can rapidly recognize the individual words of spoken sentences. Some theories explain this in terms of competition between multiply activated lexical hypotheses; others invoke sensitivity to prosodic structure. We describe a connectionist model, SHORTLIST, in which recognition by activation and competition is successful with a realistically sized lexicon. Three experiments are then reported in which listeners detected real words embedded in nonsense strings, some of which were themselves the onsets of longer words. Effects both of competition between words and of prosodic structure were observed, suggesting that activation and competition alone are not sufficient to explain word recognition in continuous speech. However, the results can be accounted for by a version of SHORTLIST that is sensitive to prosodic structure.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (1994). Competition and segmentation in spoken word recognition. In Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Spoken Language Processing: Vol. 1 (pp. 401-404). Yokohama: PACIFICO.

    Abstract

    This paper describes recent experimental evidence which shows that models of spoken word recognition must incorporate both inhibition between competing lexical candidates and a sensitivity to metrical cues to lexical segmentation. A new version of the Shortlist [1][2] model incorporating the Metrical Segmentation Strategy [3] provides a detailed simulation of the data.

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