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The Evolution of Semantic Memory and Spreading Activation

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Document pages: 61 pages

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that it is possible to deduce the structure of human semantic memory by mathematically analyzing the environment which through evolution has shaped it. The theory arrived at is similar to the spreading-activation theories of Quillian, and Collins and Loftus, but it contrasts with the above in that it involves a rigidly restricted activation that employs two distinct types of linking and three distinct types of intersection search. These three types of intersection are then used to explain the facilitation of lexical decisions, the nature of polysemy, riddles, several production experiments by Loftus, as well as the effect of word order on meaning and paired-associate learning.

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