Distinctive Features Hold a Privileged Status in the Computation of Word Meaning: Implications for Theories of Semantic Memory
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
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The authors present data from 2 feature verification experiments designed to determine whether distinctive features have a privileged status in the computation of word meaning. They use an attractor-based connectionist model of semantic memory to derive predictions for the experiments. Contrary to central predictions of the conceptual structure account, but consistent with their own model, the authors present empirical evidence that distinctive features of both living and nonliving things do indeed have a privileged role in the computation of word meaning. The authors explain the mechanism through which these effects are produced in their model by presenting an analysis of the weight structure developed in the network during training.