Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 22 of 22
  • Cutler, A., & McQueen, J. M. (2014). How prosody is both mandatory and optional. In J. Caspers, Y. Chen, W. Heeren, J. Pacilly, N. O. Schiller, & E. Van Zanten (Eds.), Above and Beyond the Segments: Experimental linguistics and phonetics (pp. 71-82). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

    Abstract

    Speech signals originate as a sequence of linguistic units selected by speakers, but these units are necessarily realised in the suprasegmental dimensions of time, frequency and amplitude. For this reason prosodic structure has been viewed as a mandatory target of language processing by both speakers and listeners. In apparent contradiction, however, prosody has also been argued to be ancillary rather than core linguistic structure, making processing of prosodic structure essentially optional. In the present tribute to one of the luminaries of prosodic research for the past quarter century, we review evidence from studies of the processing of lexical stress and focal accent which reconciles these views and shows that both claims are, each in their own way, fully true.
  • Cutler, A. (2014). In thrall to the vocabulary. Acoustics Australia, 42, 84-89.

    Abstract

    Vocabularies contain hundreds of thousands of words built from only a handful of phonemes; longer words inevitably tend to contain shorter ones. Recognising speech thus requires distinguishing intended words from accidentally present ones. Acoustic information in speech is used wherever it contributes significantly to this process; but as this review shows, its contribution differs across languages, with the consequences of this including: identical and equivalently present information distinguishing the same phonemes being used in Polish but not in German, or in English but not in Italian; identical stress cues being used in Dutch but not in English; expectations about likely embedding patterns differing across English, French, Japanese.
  • Junge, C., & Cutler, A. (2014). Early word recognition and later language skills. Brain sciences, 4(4), 532-559. doi:10.3390/brainsci4040532.

    Abstract

    Recent behavioral and electrophysiological evidence has highlighted the long-term importance for language skills of an early ability to recognize words in continuous speech. We here present further tests of this long-term link in the form of follow-up studies conducted with two (separate) groups of infants who had earlier participated in speech segmentation tasks. Each study extends prior follow-up tests: Study 1 by using a novel follow-up measure that taps into online processing, Study 2 by assessing language performance relationships over a longer time span than previously tested. Results of Study 1 show that brain correlates of speech segmentation ability at 10 months are positively related to 16-month-olds’ target fixations in a looking-while-listening task. Results of Study 2 show that infant speech segmentation ability no longer directly predicts language profiles at the age of five. However, a meta-analysis across our results and those of similar studies (Study 3) reveals that age at follow-up does not moderate effect size. Together, the results suggest that infants’ ability to recognize words in speech certainly benefits early vocabulary development; further observed relationships of later language skills to early word recognition may be consequent upon this vocabulary size effect.
  • Junge, C., Cutler, A., & Hagoort, P. (2014). Successful word recognition by 10-month-olds given continuous speech both at initial exposure and test. Infancy, 19(2), 179-193. doi:10.1111/infa.12040.

    Abstract

    Most words that infants hear occur within fluent speech. To compile a vocabulary, infants therefore need to segment words from speech contexts. This study is the first to investigate whether infants (here: 10-month-olds) can recognize words when both initial exposure and test presentation are in continuous speech. Electrophysiological evidence attests that this indeed occurs: An increased extended negativity (word recognition effect) appears for familiarized target words relative to control words. This response proved constant at the individual level: Only infants who showed this negativity at test had shown such a response, within six repetitions after first occurrence, during familiarization.
  • Tuinman, A., Mitterer, H., & Cutler, A. (2014). Use of syntax in perceptual compensation for phonological reduction. Language and Speech, 57, 68-85. doi:10.1177/0023830913479106.

    Abstract

    Listeners resolve ambiguity in speech by consulting context. Extensive research on this issue has largely relied on continua of sounds constructed to vary incrementally between two phonemic endpoints. In this study we presented listeners instead with phonetic ambiguity of a kind with which they have natural experience: varying degrees of word-final /t/-reduction. In two experiments, Dutch listeners decided whether or not the verb in a sentence such as Maar zij ren(t) soms ‘But she sometimes run(s)’ ended in /t/. In Dutch, presence versus absence of final /t/ distinguishes third- from first-person singular present-tense verbs. Acoustic evidence for /t/ varied from clear to absent, and immediately preceding phonetic context was consistent with more versus less likely deletion of /t/. In both experiments, listeners reported more /t/s in sentences in which /t/ would be syntactically correct. In Experiment 1, the disambiguating syntactic information preceded the target verb, as above, while in Experiment 2, it followed the verb. The syntactic bias was greater for fast than for slow responses in Experiment 1, but no such difference appeared in Experiment 2. We conclude that syntactic information does not directly influence pre-lexical processing, but is called upon in making phoneme decisions.
  • Van der Zande, P., Jesse, A., & Cutler, A. (2014). Cross-speaker generalisation in two phoneme-level perceptual adaptation processes. Journal of Phonetics, 43, 38-46. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2014.01.003.

    Abstract

    Speech perception is shaped by listeners' prior experience with speakers. Listeners retune their phonetic category boundaries after encountering ambiguous sounds in order to deal with variations between speakers. Repeated exposure to an unambiguous sound, on the other hand, leads to a decrease in sensitivity to the features of that particular sound. This study investigated whether these changes in the listeners' perceptual systems can generalise to the perception of speech from a novel speaker. Specifically, the experiments looked at whether visual information about the identity of the speaker could prevent generalisation from occurring. In Experiment 1, listeners retuned auditory category boundaries using audiovisual speech input. This shift in the category boundaries affected perception of speech from both the exposure speaker and a novel speaker. In Experiment 2, listeners were repeatedly exposed to unambiguous speech either auditorily or audiovisually, leading to a decrease in sensitivity to the features of the exposure sound. Here, too, the changes affected the perception of both the exposure speaker and the novel speaker. Together, these results indicate that changes in the perceptual system can affect the perception of speech from a novel speaker and that visual speaker identity information did not prevent this generalisation.
  • Van der Zande, P., Jesse, A., & Cutler, A. (2014). Hearing words helps seeing words: A cross-modal word repetition effect. Speech Communication, 59, 31-43. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2014.01.001.

    Abstract

    Watching a speaker say words benefits subsequent auditory recognition of the same words. In this study, we tested whether hearing words also facilitates subsequent phonological processing from visual speech, and if so, whether speaker repetition influences the magnitude of this word repetition priming. We used long-term cross-modal repetition priming as a means to investigate the underlying lexical representations involved in listening to and seeing speech. In Experiment 1, listeners identified auditory-only words during exposure and visual-only words at test. Words at test were repeated or new and produced by the exposure speaker or a novel speaker. Results showed a significant effect of cross-modal word repetition priming but this was unaffected by speaker changes. Experiment 2 added an explicit recognition task at test. Listeners’ lipreading performance was again improved by prior exposure to auditory words. Explicit recognition memory was poor, and neither word repetition nor speaker repetition improved it. This suggests that cross-modal repetition priming is neither mediated by explicit memory nor improved by speaker information. Our results suggest that phonological representations in the lexicon are shared across auditory and visual processing, and that speaker information is not transferred across modalities at the lexical level.
  • Warner, N., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2014). Tracking perception of the sounds of English. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 135, 2295-3006. doi:10.1121/1.4870486.

    Abstract

    Twenty American English listeners identified gated fragments of all 2288 possible English within-word and cross-word diphones, providing a total of 538 560 phoneme categorizations. The results show orderly uptake of acoustic information in the signal and provide a view of where information about segments occurs in time. Information locus depends on each speech sound’s identity and phonological features. Affricates and diphthongs have highly localized information so that listeners’ perceptual accuracy rises during a confined time range. Stops and sonorants have more distributed and gradually appearing information. The identity and phonological features (e.g., vowel vs consonant) of the neighboring segment also influences when acoustic information about a segment is available. Stressed vowels are perceived significantly more accurately than unstressed vowels, but this effect is greater for lax vowels than for tense vowels or diphthongs. The dataset charts the availability of perceptual cues to segment identity across time for the full phoneme repertoire of English in all attested phonetic contexts.
  • Cooper, N., Cutler, A., & Wales, R. (2002). Constraints of lexical stress on lexical access in English: Evidence from native and non-native listeners. Language and Speech, 45(3), 207-228.

    Abstract

    Four cross-modal priming experiments and two forced-choice identification experiments investigated the use of suprasegmental cues to stress in the recognition of spoken English words, by native (English-speaking) and non- native (Dutch) listeners. Previous results had indicated that suprasegmental information was exploited in lexical access by Dutch but not by English listeners. For both listener groups, recognition of visually presented target words was faster, in comparison to a control condition, after stress-matching spoken primes, either monosyllabic (mus- from MUsic /muSEum) or bisyl labic (admi- from ADmiral/admiRAtion). For native listeners, the effect of stress-mismatching bisyllabic primes was not different from that of control primes, but mismatching monosyllabic primes produced partial facilitation. For non-native listeners, both bisyllabic and monosyllabic stress-mismatching primes produced partial facilitation. Native English listeners thus can exploit suprasegmental information in spoken-word recognition, but information from two syllables is used more effectively than information from one syllable. Dutch listeners are less proficient at using suprasegmental information in English than in their native language, but, as in their native language, use mono- and bisyllabic information to an equal extent. In forced-choice identification, Dutch listeners outperformed native listeners at correctly assigning a monosyllabic fragment (e.g., mus-) to one of two words differing in stress.
  • Cutler, A. (2002). Lexical access. In L. Nadel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of cognitive science (pp. 858-864). London: Nature Publishing Group.
  • Cutler, A. (2002). Native listeners. European Review, 10(1), 27-41. doi:10.1017/S1062798702000030.

    Abstract

    Becoming a native listener is the necessary precursor to becoming a native speaker. Babies in the first year of life undertake a remarkable amount of work; by the time they begin to speak, they have perceptually mastered the phonological repertoire and phoneme co-occurrence probabilities of the native language, and they can locate familiar word-forms in novel continuous-speech contexts. The skills acquired at this early stage form a necessary part of adult listening. However, the same native listening skills also underlie problems in listening to a late-acquired non-native language, accounting for why in such a case listening (an innate ability) is sometimes paradoxically more difficult than, for instance, reading (a learned ability).
  • Cutler, A., & Otake, T. (2002). Rhythmic categories in spoken-word recognition. Journal of Memory and Language, 46(2), 296-322. doi:10.1006/jmla.2001.2814.

    Abstract

    Rhythmic categories such as morae in Japanese or stress units in English play a role in the perception of spoken language. We examined this role in Japanese, since recent evidence suggests that morae may intervene as structural units in word recognition. First, we found that traditional puns more often substituted part of a mora than a whole mora. Second, when listeners reconstructed distorted words, e.g. panorama from panozema, responses were faster and more accurate when only a phoneme was distorted (panozama, panorema) than when a whole CV mora was distorted (panozema). Third, lexical decisions on the same nonwords were better predicted by duration and number of phonemes from nonword uniqueness point to word end than by number of morae. Our results indicate no role for morae in early spoken-word processing; we propose that rhythmic categories constrain not initial lexical activation but subsequent processes of speech segmentation and selection among word candidates.
  • Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Somejuan, A. (2002). Le rôle de la syllable. In E. Dupoux (Ed.), Les langages du cerveau: Textes en l’honneur de Jacques Mehler (pp. 185-197). Paris: Odile Jacob.
  • Cutler, A. (2002). Phonological processing: Comments on Pierrehumbert, Moates et al., Kubozono, Peperkamp & Dupoux, and Bradlow. In C. Gussenhoven, & N. Warner (Eds.), Papers in Laboratory Phonology VII (pp. 275-296). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., Jansonius, M., & Bayerl, S. (2002). The lexical statistics of competitor activation in spoken-word recognition. In C. Bow (Ed.), Proceedings of the 9th Australian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (pp. 40-45). Canberra: Australian Speech Science and Technology Association (ASSTA).

    Abstract

    The Possible Word Constraint is a proposed mechanism whereby listeners avoid recognising words spuriously embedded in other words. It applies to words leaving a vowelless residue between their edge and the nearest known word or syllable boundary. The present study tests the usefulness of this constraint via lexical statistics of both English and Dutch. The analyses demonstrate that the constraint removes a clear majority of embedded words in speech, and thus can contribute significantly to the efficiency of human speech recognition
  • Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2002). The role of strong syllables in segmentation for lexical access. In G. T. Altmann (Ed.), Psycholinguistics: Critical concepts in psychology (pp. 157-177). London: Routledge.
  • Cutler, A., Mehler, J., Norris, D., & Segui, J. (2002). The syllable's differing role in the segmentation of French and English. In G. T. Altmann (Ed.), Psycholinguistics: Critical concepts in psychology (pp. 115-135). London: Routledge.

    Abstract

    Speech segmentation procedures may differ in speakers of different languages. Earlier work based on French speakers listening to French words suggested that the syllable functions as a segmentation unit in speech processing. However, while French has relatively regular and clearly bounded syllables, other languages, such as English, do not. No trace of syllabifying segmentation was found in English listeners listening to English words, French words, or nonsense words. French listeners, however, showed evidence of syllabification even when they were listening to English words. We conclude that alternative segmentation routines are available to the human language processor. In some cases speech segmentation may involve the operation of more than one procedure.
  • Cutler, A., Demuth, K., & McQueen, J. M. (2002). Universality versus language-specificity in listening to running speech. Psychological Science, 13(3), 258-262. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00447.

    Abstract

    Recognizing spoken language involves automatic activation of multiple candidate words. The process of selection between candidates is made more efficient by inhibition of embedded words (like egg in beg) that leave a portion of the input stranded (here, b). Results from European languages suggest that this inhibition occurs when consonants are stranded but not when syllables are stranded. The reason why leftover syllables do not lead to inhibition could be that in principle they might themselves be words; in European languages, a syllable can be a word. In Sesotho (a Bantu language), however, a single syllable cannot be a word. We report that in Sesotho, word recognition is inhibited by stranded consonants, but stranded monosyllables produce no more difficulty than stranded bisyllables (which could be Sesotho words). This finding suggests that the viability constraint which inhibits spurious embedded word candidates is not sensitive to language-specific word structure, but is universal.
  • Kearns, R. K., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2002). Syllable processing in English. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing [ICSLP 2002] (pp. 1657-1660).

    Abstract

    We describe a reaction time study in which listeners detected word or nonword syllable targets (e.g. zoo, trel) in sequences consisting of the target plus a consonant or syllable residue (trelsh, trelshek). The pattern of responses differed from an earlier word-spotting study with the same material, in which words were always harder to find if only a consonant residue remained. The earlier results should thus not be viewed in terms of syllabic parsing, but in terms of a universal role for syllables in speech perception; words which are accidentally present in spoken input (e.g. sell in self) can be rejected when they leave a residue of the input which could not itself be a word.
  • Kuijpers, C., Van Donselaar, W., & Cutler, A. (2002). Perceptual effects of assimilation-induced violation of final devoicing in Dutch. In J. H. L. Hansen, & B. Pellum (Eds.), The 7th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (pp. 1661-1664). Denver: ICSA.

    Abstract

    Voice assimilation in Dutch is an optional phonological rule which changes the surface forms of words and in doing so may violate the otherwise obligatory phonological rule of syllablefinal devoicing. We report two experiments examining the influence of voice assimilation on phoneme processing, in lexical compound words and in noun-verb phrases. Processing was not impaired in appropriate assimilation contexts across morpheme boundaries, but was impaired when devoicing was violated (a) in an inappropriate non-assimilatory) context, or (b) across a syntactic boundary.
  • Norris, D., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2002). Bias effects in facilitatory phonological priming. Memory & Cognition, 30(3), 399-411.

    Abstract

    In four experiments, we examined the facilitation that occurs when spoken-word targets rhyme with preceding spoken primes. In Experiment 1, listeners’ lexical decisions were faster to words following rhyming words (e.g., ramp–LAMP) than to words following unrelated primes (e.g., pink–LAMP). No facilitation was observed for nonword targets. Targets that almost rhymed with their primes (foils; e.g., bulk–SULSH) were included in Experiment 2; facilitation for rhyming targets was severely attenuated. Experiments 3 and 4 were single-word shadowing variants of the earlier experiments. There was facilitation for both rhyming words and nonwords; the presence of foils had no significant influence on the priming effect. A major component of the facilitation in lexical decision appears to be strategic: Listeners are biased to say “yes” to targets that rhyme with their primes, unless foils discourage this strategy. The nonstrategic component of phonological facilitation may reflect speech perception processes that operate prior to lexical access.
  • Spinelli, E., Cutler, A., & McQueen, J. M. (2002). Resolution of liaison for lexical access in French. Revue Française de Linguistique Appliquée, 7, 83-96.

    Abstract

    Spoken word recognition involves automatic activation of lexical candidates compatible with the perceived input. In running speech, words abut one another without intervening gaps, and syllable boundaries can mismatch with word boundaries. For instance, liaison in ’petit agneau’ creates a syllable beginning with a consonant although ’agneau’ begins with a vowel. In two cross-modal priming experiments we investigate how French listeners recognise words in liaison environments. These results suggest that the resolution of liaison in part depends on acoustic cues which distinguish liaison from non-liaison consonants, and in part on the availability of lexical support for a liaison interpretation.

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