Semantic Networks And Its Effects On Lexical Selection

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Previous research by Howard et al (2006) and Oppenheim et al (2006) has shown that cumulative semantic inhibition affects lexical selection. Whilst these studies show the effect is present, they do not investigate how a lexical semantic network is formed and how new vocabulary is integrated into such a network. We aim to investigate how newly learned vocabulary is affected by these previously existing lexicosemantic networks and consider how the results of this could study affect current models of lexical selection, and investigate how this affects our current understanding of language acquisition, comprehension and production. People’s vocabulary and language is sorted into semantic categories, an example of this is Sowa’s (2006) model of semantic networks. Previous research into semantic networks has been focused on previously established lexicosemantic connections, which are connections between semantically similar items in the brain (Oppenheim, Dell & Schwartz, 2010; Howard et al 2006), and never investigated how newly learnt vocabulary integrates with previously established lexicosemantic networks. As such, the current study aims to investigate whether newly learnt vocabulary is integrated with the previously established system, or is placed in an entirely new network of its own. The present research aims to expand previously expanded ideas in language acquisition, comprehension and production, and expand upon Oppenheim et al’s (2010) model of lexical retrieval in speech production. Sousa (2006) makes several claims about language acquisition, including that it “engages the entire person (cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains)”, that “past experience always affects new learning and the brain 's workin... ... middle of paper ... ..., used by Howard et al (2006), where participants are asked to name pictures drawn from several different semantic categories, and cumulative semantic inhibition is shown by a linear increase in response time for each picture from a related category in order. The current study aims to draw together these ideas from language acquisition, comprehension and production and investigate how newly learned words affect people’s already established lexical semantic network, using cumulative semantic inhibition as a tool to understand how vocabularies change. The current research hypothesises are that we will see newly learned words being integrated into people’s already established lexical semantic networks; that the newly learned words will be placed in their own network separate to people’s already established one; or alternatively that there will be no observable effect.

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