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The Mental Lexicon

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ISSN 1871-1340
E-ISSN 1871-1375

<p><em>The Mental Lexicon</em> is an interdisciplinary journal that provides an international forum for research that bears on the issues of the representation and processing of words in the mind and brain. We encourage both the submission of original research and reviews of significant new developments in the understanding of the mental lexicon. The journal publishes work that includes, but is not limited to the following: Models of the representation of words in the mind; Computational models of lexical access and production; Experimental investigations of lexical processing; Neurolinguistic studies of lexical impairment.; Functional neuroimaging and lexical representation in the brain; Lexical development across the lifespan; Lexical processing in second language acquisition; The bilingual mental lexicon; Lexical and morphological structure across languages; Formal models of lexical structure; Corpus research on the lexicon; New experimental paradigms and statistical techniques for mental lexicon research.</p>

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  • A single route, full decomposition model of morphological complexity: MEG evidence
    • Authors: Linnaea Stockall, and Alec Marantz
    • Source: The Mental Lexicon, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2006, pages: 85 –123
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    • Against longstanding assumptions in the psycholinguistics literature, we argue for a model of morphological complexity that has all complex words assembled by the grammar from lexical roots and functional morphemes. This assembly occurs even for irregular forms like gave. Morphological relatedness is argued to be an identity relation between repetitions of a single root, distinguishable from semantic and phonological relatedness. Evidence for the model is provided in two MEG priming experiments that measure root activation prior to lexical decision. Both regular and irregular allomorphs of a root are shown to prime the root equally. These results are incompatible both with connectionist models that treat all morphological relatedness as similarity and with dual mechanism models in which only regular forms involve composition.
  • Lexical dynamics for low-frequency complex words: A regression study across tasks and modalities
    • Authors: R. H. Baayen, Lee H. Wurm, and Joanna Aycock
    • Source: The Mental Lexicon, Volume 2, Issue 3, 2007, pages: 419 –463
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    • In this study we examine the word recognition process for low-frequency morphologically complex words. One goal of the study was to replicate and expand upon findings suggesting facilitative effects of morphological relatives of a target word. A second goal was to demonstrate the need for a reinterpretation of root and surface frequency effects, which traditionally have been taken as indicators of parsing-based and memory-driven processing, respectively. In a first study, we used the same stimuli across auditory and visual lexical decision and naming. Mixed-effects statistical modeling revealed that surface frequency was a robust predictor of RTs even in the very low end of the distribution, but root frequency was not. Also, the nature of the similarity between a target and its lexical competitors is crucial. Measures gauging the influence of morphological relatives of the target were facilitative, while measures gauging the influence of words related only in form were inhibitory. A second study analyzing data from the English Lexicon Project, for a large sample of words from across the full frequency range, supports these conclusions. An information-theoretical analysis of root and surface frequency explains why surface frequency must be the most important predictor, with only a marginal role for root frequency.
  • Cross-language lexical processes and inhibitory control
    • Authors: Jared A. Linck, Noriko Hoshino, and Judith F. Kroll
    • Source: The Mental Lexicon, Volume 3, Issue 3, 2008, pages: 349 –374
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    • Many recent studies demonstrate that both languages are active when bilinguals and second language (L2) learners are reading, listening, or speaking one language only. The parallel activity of the two languages has been hypothesized to create competition that must be resolved. Models of bilingual lexical access have proposed an inhibitory control mechanism to effectively limit attention to the intended language (e.g., Green, 1998). Critically, other recent research suggests that a lifetime of experience as a bilingual negotiating the competition across the two languages confers a set of benefits to cognitive control processes more generally (e.g., Bialystok, Craik, Klein, & Viswanathan, 2004). However, few studies have examined the consequences of individual differences in inhibitory control for performance on language processing tasks. The goal of the present work was to determine whether there is a relation between enhanced executive function and performance for L2 learners and bilinguals on lexical comprehension and production tasks. Data were analyzed from two studies involving a range of language processing tasks, a working memory measure, and also the Simon task, a nonlinguistic measure of inhibitory control. The results demonstrate that greater working memory resources and enhanced inhibitory control are related to a reduction in cross-language activation in a sentence context word naming task and a picture naming task, respectively. Other factors that may be related to inhibitory control are identified. The implications of these results for models of bilingual lexical comprehension and production are discussed.
  • Language switching in bilingual speech production: In search of the language-specific selection mechanism
    • Authors: John W. Schwieter, and Gretchen Sunderman
    • Source: The Mental Lexicon, Volume 3, Issue 2, 2008, pages: 214 –238
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    • Recent research on language production suggests that bilinguals shift from using inhibitory control mechanisms to a language-specific selective mechanism during development (Costa, Santesteban, & Ivanova, 2006). Costa et al. argue that the robustness of the L2 lexical representations may be critical to the functionality of a language-specific selective mechanism. Accordingly, in the present study we measured the lexical robustness of a group of 54 English dominant learners of Spanish using a verbal fluency task and investigated its effect on their performance in a picture-naming task with language switches. The results suggest that L2 lexical robustness predicts the shift to a language-specific selective mechanism during speech production. Moreover, we demonstrate a specific threshold of lexical robustness necessary to engage the mechanism.
  • Change in lexical retrieval skills in adulthood
    • Authors: Mira Goral, Avron Spiro III, Martin L. Albert, Loraine K. Obler, and Lisa Tabor Connor
    • Source: The Mental Lexicon, Volume 2, Issue 2, 2007, pages: 215 –238
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    • We conducted multivariate random-effect analyses on longitudinal data from 238 adults, ranging in age from 30 to 94, who were tested on five lexical tests over a period of 20 years to examine (a) the relations between lemma and lexeme retrieval as manifested in different tests of lexical retrieval and (b) changes in lexical processing during older adulthood. This study documents differing profiles of age-related decline in lexical retrieval determined by task demand, gender, education, and underlying cognitive skills. The tasks that required retrieval of unique lexical items (Boston Naming Test and Action Naming Test) yielded significant age-related decline that became more rapid in older age, distinguishing them from tasks that allowed for the retrieval of various lexical items. Findings support a cascaded progression of lemma and lexeme retrieval during word production.
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