The representation of polysemous words in semantic and episodic memory


Many controversies in cognitive science hinge around the divide between the general and the particular. In language research, the Declarative Procedural (DP) model proposes that procedural memory deals with the generalizable aspects of grammar, while exceptions are handled by declarative memories. Extending the DP model, we believe that the existence in memory of a semantic component which stores the prototypic information and an ‘episodic’ component that stores both the exceptions to the prototypes and the exceptionally common stimuli, could explain results on polysemia research. We studied the representation of polysemous words. We tested whether different senses of a polysemous word prime each other. Although in general there is no priming there are items showing positive priming and others showing inhibition. We then used bimodal priming in order to understand the effect of context in both types of items. Our results support the idea that lexical representation uses different memory systems.

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