Psychology Publications

Document Type


Publication Date



Cognitive Science





First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier


The structure of people’s conceptual knowledge of concrete nouns has traditionally been viewed as hierarchical (Collins & Quillian, 1969). For example, superordinate concepts (vegetable) are assumed to reside at a higher level than basic-level concepts (carrot). A feature-based attractor network with a single layer of semantic features developed representations of both basic-level and superordinate concepts. No hierarchical structure was built into the network. In Experiment and Simulation 1, the graded structure of categories (typicality ratings) is accounted for by the flat attractor network. Experiment and Simulation 2 show that, as with basic-level concepts, such a network predicts feature verification latencies for superordinate concepts (vegetable ). In Experiment and Simulation 3, counterintuitive results regarding the temporal dynamics of similarity in semantic priming are explained by the model. By treating both types of concepts the same in terms of representation, learning, and computations, the model provides new insights into semantic memory.


This is the final published version of the following article: CM O'Connor, GS Cree & K McRae (2009). Conceptual Hierarchies in a Flat Attractor Network: Dynamics of Learning and Computations, 33(4), 665-708, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Find in your library

Included in

Psychology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.