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Learning Word Meanings: Overnight Integration and Study Modality Effects.

van der Ven, F., Takashima, A., Segers, E., & Verhoeven, L. (2015). Learning Word Meanings: Overnight Integration and Study Modality Effects. PLoS One, 10. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124926.
According to the complementary learning systems (CLS) account of word learning, novel words are rapidly acquired (learning system 1), but slowly integrated into the mental lexicon (learning system 2). This two-step learning process has been shown to apply to novel word forms. In this study, we investigated whether novel word meanings are also gradually integrated after acquisition by measuring the extent to which newly learned words were able to prime semantically related words at two different time points. In addition, we investigated whether modality at study modulates this integration process. Sixty-four adult participants studied novel words together with written or spoken definitions. These words did not prime semantically related words directly following study, but did so after a 24-hour delay. This significant increase in the magnitude of the priming effect suggests that semantic integration occurs over time. Overall, words that were studied with a written definition showed larger priming effects, suggesting greater integration for the written study modality. Although the process of integration, reflected as an increase in the priming effect over time, did not significantly differ between study modalities, words studied with a written definition showed the most prominent positive effect after a 24-hour delay. Our data suggest that semantic integration requires time, and that studying in written format benefits semantic integration more than studying in spoken format. These findings are discussed in light of the CLS theory of word learning.
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The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.


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