the mental lexicon n.
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The mental lexicon. LG 103 Introduction to psycholinguistics Celia ( Vasiliki ) Antoniou. What is the mental lexicon?. The mental lexicon is defined as a mental dictionary that contains information regarding a word's meaning, pronunciation, syntactic characteristics, and so on. Size.

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the mental lexicon

The mental lexicon

LG 103 Introduction to psycholinguistics

Celia (Vasiliki) Antoniou

what is the mental lexicon
What is the mental lexicon?
  • The mental lexicon is defined as a mental dictionary that contains information regarding a word's meaning, pronunciation, syntactic characteristics, and so on
  • There’s no simple answer to this...
  • Do we store every single word or just lemmas?
  • (i.e. drink only, or drink, drinking, drunk, drank, etc...)?
  • The mental lexicon differs from the lexicon in that it is not just a general collection of words.
  • It deals with how those words are activated, stored, processed, and retrieved by each speaker.
  • What do the previous terms refer to??
  • An individual’s mental lexicon changes and grows as new words are learned and is always developing.
  • However, there are several theorists that argue exactly how this occurs.
  • The mental lexicon is not organized alphabetically like a dictionary.
  • The active nature of the mental lexicon makes any dictionary comparison unhelpful.
  • It seems to be organized in a more complex manner, with links between phonologically and semantically related lexical items.
  • How do we know?
  • A speech error, commonly referred to as a slip of the tongue[1] (Latin: lapsuslinguae), is a deviation (conscious or unconscious) from the apparently intended form of an utterance.
  • Anecdote for antidote
lexical decision task
  • If you took part in a lexical decision task, what would you be asked to do?
  • Participants in this task are required to respond as quickly and accurately as possible to a string of letters presented on a screen to say if the string is a non-word or a real word.
  • They have been used for many years to show how the words are linked in our minds + how the mental lexicon is structured.
  • It is also called....


so what
So what?
  • Response time to these words is faster/slower if that word was heard/seen recently???
  • Reaction times from this task indicate that certain words are more "active" in participants minds after related words have been presented.
  • i.e. present the word "bread" to the participant and then see an increased reaction time later to the word "butter".
  • The word "bread" had activated all related words, including "butter“ so the recognition process was faster.
  • This increased reaction time demonstrates that related words are stored closely in the mental lexicon.
cross modal priming
Cross – modal priming
  • What is it?
  • Prime is presented auditorily, target presented visually on screen
  • Used to show that by hearing only the first part of a word, all possible continuations are activated!
  • E.g. on hearing “carp...” both carpet and carpenter are activated!
why and how to use it
Why and how to use it?
  • During this task, study participants heard recorded sentences containing lexical or syntactic ambiguities while seated in front of a computer screen.
  • When the ambiguous word or phrase was uttered in the recording, a simultaneous string of letters, either a word or a non-word, is flashed on the computer screen.
  • These words usually reflected one or another meaning of an ambiguous word or phrase in the recorded sentence.
  • Study participants were then asked to respond as quickly as possible once the probes were processed.
  • The idea is that multiple meanings are activated at the moment an ambiguity is encountered in a sentence, which primes related concepts.
  • Swinney’stheory (1979) follows that once these related concepts are primed, recognition of them in this task will be quicker than words that are not activated.