Anne Cutler †

Publications

Displaying 1 - 15 of 15
  • 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
  • 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
  • Choi, J., Broersma, M., & Cutler, A. (2018). Phonetic learning is not enhanced by sequential exposure to more than one language. Linguistic Research, 35(3), 567-581. doi:10.17250/khisli.35.3.201812.006.

    Abstract

    Several studies have documented that international adoptees, who in early years have experienced a change from a language used in their birth country to a new language in an adoptive country, benefit from the limited early exposure to the birth language when relearning that language’s sounds later in life. The adoptees’ relearning advantages have been argued to be conferred by lasting birth-language knowledge obtained from the early exposure. However, it is also plausible to assume that the advantages may arise from adoptees’ superior ability to learn language sounds in general, as a result of their unusual linguistic experience, i.e., exposure to multiple languages in sequence early in life. If this is the case, then the adoptees’ relearning benefits should generalize to previously unheard language sounds, rather than be limited to their birth-language sounds. In the present study, adult Korean adoptees in the Netherlands and matched Dutch-native controls were trained on identifying a Japanese length distinction to which they had never been exposed before. The adoptees and Dutch controls did not differ on any test carried out before, during, or after the training, indicating that observed adoptee advantages for birth-language relearning do not generalize to novel, previously unheard language sounds. The finding thus fails to support the suggestion that birth-language relearning advantages may arise from enhanced ability to learn language sounds in general conferred by early experience in multiple languages. Rather, our finding supports the original contention that such advantages involve memory traces obtained before adoption
  • Cutler, A., & Farrell, J. (2018). Listening in first and second language. In J. I. Liontas (Ed.), The TESOL encyclopedia of language teaching. New York: Wiley. doi:10.1002/9781118784235.eelt0583.

    Abstract

    Listeners' recognition of spoken language involves complex decoding processes: The continuous speech stream must be segmented into its component words, and words must be recognized despite great variability in their pronunciation (due to talker differences, or to influence of phonetic context, or to speech register) and despite competition from many spuriously present forms supported by the speech signal. L1 listeners deal more readily with all levels of this complexity than L2 listeners. Fortunately, the decoding processes necessary for competent L2 listening can be taught in the classroom. Evidence-based methodologies targeted at the development of efficient speech decoding include teaching of minimal pairs, of phonotactic constraints, and of reduction processes, as well as the use of dictation and L2 video captions.
  • Johnson, E. K., Bruggeman, L., & Cutler, A. (2018). Abstraction and the (misnamed) language familiarity effect. Cognitive Science, 42, 633-645. doi:10.1111/cogs.12520.

    Abstract

    Talkers are recognized more accurately if they are speaking the listeners’ native language rather than an unfamiliar language. This “language familiarity effect” has been shown not to depend upon comprehension and must instead involve language sound patterns. We further examine the level of sound-pattern processing involved, by comparing talker recognition in foreign languages versus two varieties of English, by (a) English speakers of one variety, (b) English speakers of the other variety, and (c) non-native listeners (more familiar with one of the varieties). All listener groups performed better with native than foreign speech, but no effect of language variety appeared: Native listeners discriminated talkers equally well in each, with the native variety never outdoing the other variety, and non-native listeners discriminated talkers equally poorly in each, irrespective of the variety's familiarity. The results suggest that this talker recognition effect rests not on simple familiarity, but on an abstract level of phonological processing
  • Kidd, E., Junge, C., Spokes, T., Morrison, L., & Cutler, A. (2018). Individual differences in infant speech segmentation: Achieving the lexical shift. Infancy, 23(6), 770-794. doi:10.1111/infa.12256.

    Abstract

    We report a large‐scale electrophysiological study of infant speech segmentation, in which over 100 English‐acquiring 9‐month‐olds were exposed to unfamiliar bisyllabic words embedded in sentences (e.g., He saw a wild eagle up there), after which their brain responses to either the just‐familiarized word (eagle) or a control word (coral) were recorded. When initial exposure occurs in continuous speech, as here, past studies have reported that even somewhat older infants do not reliably recognize target words, but that successful segmentation varies across children. Here, we both confirm and further uncover the nature of this variation. The segmentation response systematically varied across individuals and was related to their vocabulary development. About one‐third of the group showed a left‐frontally located relative negativity in response to familiar versus control targets, which has previously been described as a mature response. Another third showed a similarly located positive‐going reaction (a previously described immature response), and the remaining third formed an intermediate grouping that was primarily characterized by an initial response delay. A fine‐grained group‐level analysis suggested that a developmental shift to a lexical mode of processing occurs toward the end of the first year, with variation across individual infants in the exact timing of this shift.

    Additional information

    supporting information
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2018). Commentary on “Interaction in spoken word recognition models". Frontiers in Psychology, 9: 1568. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01568.
  • 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.
  • Costa, A., Cutler, A., & Sebastian-Galles, N. (1998). Effects of phoneme repertoire on phoneme decision. Perception and Psychophysics, 60, 1022-1031.

    Abstract

    In three experiments, listeners detected vowel or consonant targets in lists of CV syllables constructed from five vowels and five consonants. Responses were faster in a predictable context (e.g., listening for a vowel target in a list of syllables all beginning with the same consonant) than in an unpredictable context (e.g., listening for a vowel target in a list of syllables beginning with different consonants). In Experiment 1, the listeners’ native language was Dutch, in which vowel and consonant repertoires are similar in size. The difference between predictable and unpredictable contexts was comparable for vowel and consonant targets. In Experiments 2 and 3, the listeners’ native language was Spanish, which has four times as many consonants as vowels; here effects of an unpredictable consonant context on vowel detection were significantly greater than effects of an unpredictable vowel context on consonant detection. This finding suggests that listeners’ processing of phonemes takes into account the constitution of their language’s phonemic repertoire and the implications that this has for contextual variability.
  • Cutler, A. (1998). Prosodic structure and word recognition. In A. D. Friederici (Ed.), Language comprehension: A biological perspective (pp. 41-70). Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Kuijpers, C. T., Coolen, R., Houston, D., & Cutler, A. (1998). Using the head-turning technique to explore cross-linguistic performance differences. In C. Rovee-Collier, L. Lipsitt, & H. Hayne (Eds.), Advances in infancy research: Vol. 12 (pp. 205-220). Stamford: Ablex.
  • McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (1998). Morphology in word recognition. In A. M. Zwicky, & A. Spencer (Eds.), The handbook of morphology (pp. 406-427). Oxford: Blackwell.

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