Anne Cutler

Publications

Displaying 1 - 16 of 16
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2021). More why, less how: What we need from models of cognition. Cognition. Advance online publication. 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.
  • 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
  • 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. (2005). Why is it so hard to understand a second language in noise? Newsletter, American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, 48, 16-16.
  • Cutler, A., Smits, R., & Cooper, N. (2005). Vowel perception: Effects of non-native language vs. non-native dialect. Speech Communication, 47(1-2), 32-42. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2005.02.001.

    Abstract

    Three groups of listeners identified the vowel in CV and VC syllables produced by an American English talker. The listeners were (a) native speakers of American English, (b) native speakers of Australian English (different dialect), and (c) native speakers of Dutch (different language). The syllables were embedded in multispeaker babble at three signal-to-noise ratios (0 dB, 8 dB, and 16 dB). The identification performance of native listeners was significantly better than that of listeners with another language but did not significantly differ from the performance of listeners with another dialect. Dialect differences did however affect the type of perceptual confusions which listeners made; in particular, the Australian listeners’ judgements of vowel tenseness were more variable than the American listeners’ judgements, which may be ascribed to cross-dialectal differences in this vocalic feature. Although listening difficulty can result when speech input mismatches the native dialect in terms of the precise cues for and boundaries of phonetic categories, the difficulty is very much less than that which arises when speech input mismatches the native language in terms of the repertoire of phonemic categories available.
  • Cutler, A. (Ed.). (2005). Twenty-first century psycholinguistics: Four cornerstones. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Cutler, A. (Ed.). (2005). Twenty-first century psycholinguistics: Four cornerstones. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Kooijman, V., Hagoort, P., & Cutler, A. (2005). Electrophysiological evidence for prelinguistic infants' word recognition in continuous speech. Cognitive Brain Research, 24(1), 109-116. doi:10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2004.12.009.

    Abstract

    Children begin to talk at about age one. The vocabulary they need to do so must be built on perceptual evidence and, indeed, infants begin to recognize spoken words long before they talk. Most of the utterances infants hear, however, are continuous, without pauses between words, so constructing a vocabulary requires them to decompose continuous speech in order to extract the individual words. Here, we present electrophysiological evidence that 10-month-old infants recognize two-syllable words they have previously heard only in isolation when these words are presented anew in continuous speech. Moreover, they only need roughly the first syllable of the word to begin doing this. Thus, prelinguistic infants command a highly efficient procedure for segmentation and recognition of spoken words in the absence of an existing vocabulary, allowing them to tackle effectively the problem of bootstrapping a lexicon out of the highly variable, continuous speech signals in their environment.
  • Sharp, D. J., Scott, S. K., Cutler, A., & Wise, R. J. S. (2005). Lexical retrieval constrained by sound structure: The role of the left inferior frontal gyrus. Brain and Language, 92(3), 309-319. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2004.07.002.

    Abstract

    Positron emission tomography was used to investigate two competing hypotheses about the role of the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) in word generation. One proposes a domain-specific organization, with neural activation dependent on the type of information being processed, i.e., surface sound structure or semantic. The other proposes a process-specific organization, with activation dependent on processing demands, such as the amount of selection needed to decide between competing lexical alternatives. In a novel word retrieval task, word reconstruction (WR), subjects generated real words from heard non-words by the substitution of either a vowel or consonant. Both types of lexical retrieval, informed by sound structure alone, produced activation within anterior and posterior left IFG regions. Within these regions there was greater activity for consonant WR, which is more difficult and imposes greater processing demands. These results support a process-specific organization of the anterior left IFG.
  • Van Donselaar, W., Koster, M., & Cutler, A. (2005). Exploring the role of lexical stress in lexical recognition. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58A(2), 251-273. doi:10.1080/02724980343000927.

    Abstract

    Three cross-modal priming experiments examined the role of suprasegmental information in the processing of spoken words. All primes consisted of truncated spoken Dutch words. Recognition of visually presented word targets was facilitated by prior auditory presentation of the first two syllables of the same words as primes, but only if they were appropriately stressed (e.g., OKTOBER preceded by okTO-); inappropriate stress, compatible with another word (e.g., OKTOBER preceded by OCto-, the beginning of octopus), produced inhibition. Monosyllabic fragments (e.g., OC-) also produced facilitation when appropriately stressed; if inappropriately stressed, they produced neither facilitation nor inhibition. The bisyllabic fragments that were compatible with only one word produced facilitation to semantically associated words, but inappropriate stress caused no inhibition of associates. The results are explained within a model of spoken-word recognition involving competition between simultaneously activated phonological representations followed by activation of separate conceptual representations for strongly supported lexical candidates; at the level of the phonological representations, activation is modulated by both segmental and suprasegmental information.
  • Warner, N., Smits, R., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2005). Phonological and statistical effects on timing of speech perception: Insights from a database of Dutch diphone perception. Speech Communication, 46(1), 53-72. doi:10.1016/j.specom.2005.01.003.

    Abstract

    We report detailed analyses of a very large database on timing of speech perception collected by Smits et al. (Smits, R., Warner, N., McQueen, J.M., Cutler, A., 2003. Unfolding of phonetic information over time: A database of Dutch diphone perception. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 113, 563–574). Eighteen listeners heard all possible diphones of Dutch, gated in portions of varying size and presented without background noise. The present report analyzes listeners’ responses across gates in terms of phonological features (voicing, place, and manner for consonants; height, backness, and length for vowels). The resulting patterns for feature perception differ from patterns reported when speech is presented in noise. The data are also analyzed for effects of stress and of phonological context (neighboring vowel vs. consonant); effects of these factors are observed to be surprisingly limited. Finally, statistical effects, such as overall phoneme frequency and transitional probabilities, along with response biases, are examined; these too exercise only limited effects on response patterns. The results suggest highly accurate speech perception on the basis of acoustic information alone.
  • Warner, N., Kim, J., Davis, C., & Cutler, A. (2005). Use of complex phonological patterns in speech processing: Evidence from Korean. Journal of Linguistics, 41(2), 353-387. doi:10.1017/S0022226705003294.

    Abstract

    Korean has a very complex phonology, with many interacting alternations. In a coronal-/i/ sequence, depending on the type of phonological boundary present, alternations such as palatalization, nasal insertion, nasal assimilation, coda neutralization, and intervocalic voicing can apply. This paper investigates how the phonological patterns of Korean affect processing of morphemes and words. Past research on languages such as English, German, Dutch, and Finnish has shown that listeners exploit syllable structure constraints in processing speech and segmenting it into words. The current study shows that in parsing speech, listeners also use much more complex patterns that relate the surface phonological string to various boundaries.

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