Anne Cutler †

Publications

Displaying 1 - 25 of 25
  • 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.

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  • 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.

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    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
  • Cutler, A., & Jesse, A. (2021). Word stress in speech perception. In J. S. Pardo, L. C. Nygaard, & D. B. Pisoni (Eds.), The handbook of speech perception (2nd ed., pp. 239-265). Chichester: Wiley.
  • Cutler, A., Aslin, R. N., Gervain, J., & Nespor, M. (2021). Special issue in honor of Jacques Mehler, Cognition's founding editor [preface]. Cognition, 213: 104786. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104786.
  • Kember, H., Choi, J., Yu, J., & Cutler, A. (2021). The processing of linguistic prominence. Language and Speech, 64(2), 413-436. doi:10.1177/0023830919880217.

    Abstract

    Prominence, the expression of informational weight within utterances, can be signaled by prosodic highlighting (head-prominence, as in English) or by position (as in Korean edge-prominence). Prominence confers processing advantages, even if conveyed only by discourse manipulations. Here we compared processing of prominence in English and Korean, using a task that indexes processing success, namely recognition memory. In each language, participants’ memory was tested for target words heard in sentences in which they were prominent due to prosody, position, both or neither. Prominence produced recall advantage, but the relative effects differed across language. For Korean listeners the positional advantage was greater, but for English listeners prosodic and syntactic prominence had equivalent and additive effects. In a further experiment semantic and phonological foils tested depth of processing of the recall targets. Both foil types were correctly rejected, suggesting that semantic processing had not reached the level at which word form was no longer available. Together the results suggest that prominence processing is primarily driven by universal effects of information structure; but language-specific differences in frequency of experience prompt different relative advantages of prominence signal types. Processing efficiency increases in each case, however, creating more accurate and more rapidly contactable memory representations.
  • Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2021). More why, less how: What we need from models of cognition. Cognition, 213: 104688. 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.
  • Zhou, W., Broersma, M., & Cutler, A. (2021). Asymmetric memory for birth language perception versus production in young international adoptees. Cognition, 213: 104788. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2021.104788.

    Abstract

    Adults who as children were adopted into a different linguistic community retain knowledge of their birth language. The possession (without awareness) of such knowledge is known to facilitate the (re)learning of birth-language speech patterns; this perceptual learning predicts such adults' production success as well, indicating that the retained linguistic knowledge is abstract in nature. Adoptees' acquisition of their adopted language is fast and complete; birth-language mastery disappears rapidly, although this latter process has been little studied. Here, 46 international adoptees from China aged four to 10 years, with Dutch as their new language, plus 47 matched non-adopted Dutch-native controls and 40 matched non-adopted Chinese controls, undertook across a two-week period 10 blocks of training in perceptually identifying Chinese speech contrasts (one segmental, one tonal) which were unlike any Dutch contrasts. Chinese controls easily accomplished all these tasks. The same participants also provided speech production data in an imitation task. In perception, adoptees and Dutch controls scored equivalently poorly at the outset of training; with training, the adoptees significantly improved while the Dutch controls did not. In production, adoptees' imitations both before and after training could be better identified, and received higher goodness ratings, than those of Dutch controls. The perception results confirm that birth-language knowledge is stored and can facilitate re-learning in post-adoption childhood; the production results suggest that although processing of phonological category detail appears to depend on access to the stored knowledge, general articulatory dimensions can at this age also still be remembered, and may facilitate spoken imitation.

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    stimulus materials
  • 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.
  • Bock, K., Butterfield, S., Cutler, A., Cutting, J. C., Eberhard, K. M., & Humphreys, K. R. (2006). Number agreement in British and American English: Disagreeing to agree collectively. Language, 82(1), 64-113.

    Abstract

    British andAmerican speakers exhibit different verb number agreement patterns when sentence subjects have collective headnouns. From linguistic andpsycholinguistic accounts of how agreement is implemented, three alternative hypotheses can be derived to explain these differences. The hypotheses involve variations in the representation of notional number, disparities in how notional andgrammatical number are used, and inequalities in the grammatical number specifications of collective nouns. We carriedout a series of corpus analyses, production experiments, andnorming studies to test these hypotheses. The results converge to suggest that British and American speakers are equally sensitive to variations in notional number andimplement subjectverb agreement in much the same way, but are likely to differ in the lexical specifications of number for collectives. The findings support a psycholinguistic theory that explains verb and pronoun agreement within a parallel architecture of lexical andsyntactic formulation.
  • Cutler, A., Weber, A., & Otake, T. (2006). Asymmetric mapping from phonetic to lexical representations in second-language listening. Journal of Phonetics, 34(2), 269-284. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2005.06.002.

    Abstract

    The mapping of phonetic information to lexical representations in second-language (L2) listening was examined using an eyetracking paradigm. Japanese listeners followed instructions in English to click on pictures in a display. When instructed to click on a picture of a rocket, they experienced interference when a picture of a locker was present, that is, they tended to look at the locker instead. However, when instructed to click on the locker, they were unlikely to look at the rocket. This asymmetry is consistent with a similar asymmetry previously observed in Dutch listeners’ mapping of English vowel contrasts to lexical representations. The results suggest that L2 listeners may maintain a distinction between two phonetic categories of the L2 in their lexical representations, even though their phonetic processing is incapable of delivering the perceptual discrimination required for correct mapping to the lexical distinction. At the phonetic processing level, one of the L2 categories is dominant; the present results suggest that dominance is determined by acoustic–phonetic proximity to the nearest L1 category. At the lexical processing level, representations containing this dominant category are more likely than representations containing the non-dominant category to be correctly contacted by the phonetic input.
  • Cutler, A. (2006). Rudolf Meringer. In K. Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (vol. 8) (pp. 12-13). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

    Abstract

    Rudolf Meringer (1859–1931), Indo-European philologist, published two collections of slips of the tongue, annotated and interpreted. From 1909, he was the founding editor of the cultural morphology movement's journal Wörter und Sachen. Meringer was the first to note the linguistic significance of speech errors, and his interpretations have stood the test of time. This work, rather than his mainstream philological research, has proven his most lasting linguistic contribution
  • Cutler, A. (2006). Van spraak naar woorden in een tweede taal. In J. Morais, & G. d'Ydewalle (Eds.), Bilingualism and Second Language Acquisition (pp. 39-54). Brussels: Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2006). Are there really interactive processes in speech perception? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10(12), 533-533. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2006.10.004.
  • McQueen, J. M., Cutler, A., & Norris, D. (2006). Phonological abstraction in the mental lexicon. Cognitive Science, 30(6), 1113-1126. doi:10.1207/s15516709cog0000_79.

    Abstract

    A perceptual learning experiment provides evidence that the mental lexicon cannot consist solely of detailed acoustic traces of recognition episodes. In a training lexical decision phase, listeners heard an ambiguous [f–s] fricative sound, replacing either [f] or [s] in words. In a test phase, listeners then made lexical decisions to visual targets following auditory primes. Critical materials were minimal pairs that could be a word with either [f] or [s] (cf. English knife–nice), none of which had been heard in training. Listeners interpreted the minimal pair words differently in the second phase according to the training received in the first phase. Therefore, lexically mediated retuning of phoneme perception not only influences categorical decisions about fricatives (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003), but also benefits recognition of words outside the training set. The observed generalization across words suggests that this retuning occurs prelexically. Therefore, lexical processing involves sublexical phonological abstraction, not only accumulation of acoustic episodes.
  • McQueen, J. M., Norris, D., & Cutler, A. (2006). The dynamic nature of speech perception. Language and Speech, 49(1), 101-112.

    Abstract

    The speech perception system must be flexible in responding to the variability in speech sounds caused by differences among speakers and by language change over the lifespan of the listener. Indeed, listeners use lexical knowledge to retune perception of novel speech (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003). In that study, Dutch listeners made lexical decisions to spoken stimuli, including words with an ambiguous fricative (between [f] and [s]), in either [f]- or [s]-biased lexical contexts. In a subsequent categorization test, the former group of listeners identified more sounds on an [εf] - [εs] continuum as [f] than the latter group. In the present experiment, listeners received the same exposure and test stimuli, but did not make lexical decisions to the exposure items. Instead, they counted them. Categorization results were indistinguishable from those obtained earlier. These adjustments in fricative perception therefore do not depend on explicit judgments during exposure. This learning effect thus reflects automatic retuning of the interpretation of acoustic-phonetic information.
  • Mitterer, H., & Cutler, A. (2006). Speech perception. In K. Brown (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (vol. 11) (pp. 770-782). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

    Abstract

    The goal of speech perception is understanding a speaker's message. To achieve this, listeners must recognize the words that comprise a spoken utterance. This in turn implies distinguishing these words from other minimally different words (e.g., word from bird, etc.), and this involves making phonemic distinctions. The article summarizes research on the perception of phonemic distinctions, on how listeners cope with the continuity and variability of speech signals, and on how phonemic information is mapped onto the representations of words. Particular attention is paid to theories of speech perception and word recognition.
  • Norris, D., Cutler, A., McQueen, J. M., & Butterfield, S. (2006). Phonological and conceptual activation in speech comprehension. Cognitive Psychology, 53(2), 146-193. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2006.03.001.

    Abstract

    We propose that speech comprehension involves the activation of token representations of the phonological forms of current lexical hypotheses, separately from the ongoing construction of a conceptual interpretation of the current utterance. In a series of cross-modal priming experiments, facilitation of lexical decision responses to visual target words (e.g., time) was found for targets that were semantic associates of auditory prime words (e.g., date) when the primes were isolated words, but not when the same primes appeared in sentence contexts. Identity priming (e.g., faster lexical decisions to visual date after spoken date than after an unrelated prime) appeared, however, both with isolated primes and with primes in prosodically neutral sentences. Associative priming in sentence contexts only emerged when sentence prosody involved contrastive accents, or when sentences were terminated immediately after the prime. Associative priming is therefore not an automatic consequence of speech processing. In no experiment was there associative priming from embedded words (e.g., sedate-time), but there was inhibitory identity priming (e.g., sedate-date) from embedded primes in sentence contexts. Speech comprehension therefore appears to involve separate distinct activation both of token phonological word representations and of conceptual word representations. Furthermore, both of these types of representation are distinct from the long-term memory representations of word form and meaning.
  • Norris, D., Butterfield, S., McQueen, J. M., & Cutler, A. (2006). Lexically guided retuning of letter perception. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 59(9), 1505-1515. doi:10.1080/17470210600739494.

    Abstract

    Participants made visual lexical decisions to upper-case words and nonwords, and then categorized an ambiguous N–H letter continuum. The lexical decision phase included different exposure conditions: Some participants saw an ambiguous letter “?”, midway between N and H, in N-biased lexical contexts (e.g., REIG?), plus words with unambiguousH(e.g., WEIGH); others saw the reverse (e.g., WEIG?, REIGN). The first group categorized more of the test continuum as N than did the second group. Control groups, who saw “?” in nonword contexts (e.g., SMIG?), plus either of the unambiguous word sets (e.g., WEIGH or REIGN), showed no such subsequent effects. Perceptual learning about ambiguous letters therefore appears to be based on lexical knowledge, just as in an analogous speech experiment (Norris, McQueen, & Cutler, 2003) which showed similar lexical influence in learning about ambiguous phonemes. We argue that lexically guided learning is an efficient general strategy available for exploitation by different specific perceptual tasks.
  • Shi, R., Cutler, A., Werker, J., & Cruickshank, M. (2006). Frequency and form as determinants of functor sensitivity in English-acquiring infants. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 119(6), EL61-EL67. doi:10.1121/1.2198947.

    Abstract

    High-frequency functors are arguably among the earliest perceived word forms and may assist extraction of initial vocabulary items. Canadian 11- and 8-month-olds were familiarized to pseudo-nouns following either a high-frequency functor the or a low-frequency functor her versus phonetically similar mispronunciations of each, kuh and ler, and then tested for recognition of the pseudo-nouns. A preceding the (but not kuh, her, ler)facilitated extraction of the pseudo-nouns for 11-month-olds; the is thus well-specified in form for these infants. However, both the and kuh (but not her-ler )f aciliated segmentation or 8-month-olds, suggesting an initial underspecified representation of high-frequency functors.
  • Shi, R., Werker, J. F., & Cutler, A. (2006). Recognition and representation of function words in English-learning infants. Infancy, 10(2), 187-198. doi:10.1207/s15327078in1002_5.

    Abstract

    We examined infants' recognition of functors and the accuracy of the representations that infants construct of the perceived word forms. Auditory stimuli were “Functor + Content Word” versus “Nonsense Functor + Content Word” sequences. Eight-, 11-, and 13-month-old infants heard both real functors and matched nonsense functors (prosodically analogous to their real counterparts but containing a segmental change). Results reveal that 13-month-olds recognized functors with attention to segmental detail. Eight-month-olds did not distinguish real versus nonsense functors. The performance of 11-month-olds fell in between that of the older and younger groups, consistent with an emerging recognition of real functors. The three age groups exhibited a clear developmental trend. We propose that in the earliest stages of vocabulary acquisition, function elements receive no segmentally detailed representations, but such representations are gradually constructed so that once vocabulary growth starts in earnest, fully specified functor representations are in place to support it.
  • Wagner, A., Ernestus, M., & Cutler, A. (2006). Formant transitions in fricative identification: The role of native fricative inventory. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 120(4), 2267-2277. doi:10.1121/1.2335422.

    Abstract

    The distribution of energy across the noise spectrum provides the primary cues for the identification of a fricative. Formant transitions have been reported to play a role in identification of some fricatives, but the combined results so far are conflicting. We report five experiments testing the hypothesis that listeners differ in their use of formant transitions as a function of the presence of spectrally similar fricatives in their native language. Dutch, English, German, Polish, and Spanish native listeners performed phoneme monitoring experiments with pseudowords containing either coherent or misleading formant transitions for the fricatives / s / and / f /. Listeners of German and Dutch, both languages without spectrally similar fricatives, were not affected by the misleading formant transitions. Listeners of the remaining languages were misled by incorrect formant transitions. In an untimed labeling experiment both Dutch and Spanish listeners provided goodness ratings that revealed sensitivity to the acoustic manipulation. We conclude that all listeners may be sensitive to mismatching information at a low auditory level, but that they do not necessarily take full advantage of all available systematic acoustic variation when identifying phonemes. Formant transitions may be most useful for listeners of languages with spectrally similar fricatives.
  • Weber, A., & Cutler, A. (2006). First-language phonotactics in second-language listening. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 119(1), 597-607. doi:10.1121/1.2141003.

    Abstract

    Highly proficient German users of English as a second language, and native speakers of American English, listened to nonsense sequences and responded whenever they detected an embedded English word. The responses of both groups were equivalently facilitated by preceding context that both by English and by German phonotactic constraints forced a boundary at word onset (e.g., lecture was easier to detect in moinlecture than in gorklecture, and wish in yarlwish than in plookwish. The American L1 speakers’ responses were strongly facilitated, and the German listeners’ responses almost as strongly facilitated, by contexts that forced a boundary in English but not in German thrarshlecture, glarshwish. The German listeners’ responses were significantly facilitated also by contexts that forced a boundary in German but not in English )moycelecture, loitwish, while L1 listeners were sensitive to acoustic boundary cues in these materials but not to the phonotactic sequences. The pattern of results suggests that proficient L2 listeners can acquire the phonotactic probabilities of an L2 and use them to good effect in segmenting continuous speech, but at the same time they may not be able to prevent interference from L1 constraints in their L2 listening.

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