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Exploring the relations between word frequency, language exposure, and bilingualism in a computational model of reading

Monaghan, P., Chang, Y.-N., Welbourne, S., & Brysbaert, M. (2017). Exploring the relations between word frequency, language exposure, and bilingualism in a computational model of reading. Journal of Memory and Language, 93, 1-27. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2016.08.003.
Individuals show differences in the extent to which psycholinguistic variables predict their responses for lexical processing tasks. A key variable accounting for much variance in lexical processing is frequency, but the size of the frequency effect has been demonstrated to reduce as a consequence of the individual’s vocabulary size. Using a connectionist computational implementation of the triangle model on a large set of English words, where orthographic, phonological, and semantic representations interact during processing, we show that the model demonstrates a reduced frequency effect as a consequence of amount of exposure to the language, a variable that was also a cause of greater vocabulary size in the model. The model was also trained to learn a second language, Dutch, and replicated behavioural observations that increased proficiency in a second language resulted in reduced frequency effects for that language but increased frequency effects in the first language. The model provides a first step to demonstrating causal relations between psycholinguistic variables in a model of individual differences in lexical processing, and the effect of bilingualism on interacting variables within the language processing system
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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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