On the different types of information stored in the lexicon and their neural bases

Abstract

We explore the idea that the neuropsychological organization of memory explains contradictory results about the lexicon. We believe that a semantic component stores the prototypic information and an ‘episodic’ component stores both the exceptions to the prototypes and the exceptionally common stimuli. With this theoretical insight we studied the different types of information that are accessed when a word is presented to a subject. To this end we first reproduced some results from Hare and coworkers showing that the presentation of a word for a noun facilitates the recognition of words related to the context of the word usage more than what could count as a semantic definition. The same pattern is observed for the neurophysiologically determined facilitation of the N400 component. Some of the results can be explained by corpus linguistic tools such as LSA. We present evidence from bimodal priming experiments supporting part of our theoretical proposition.


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