Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Keywords hold our vocabulary together in memory

Date:
May 19, 2014
Source:
University of Kansas, Life Span Institute
Summary:
Like key players in social networks, scientists have found evidence that there are keywords in word networks that hold together groups of words in our memory. The existence of keywords opens up many possible real-life applications such as helping individuals with word finding after stroke. Conversely, removing a keyword through psycholinguistic tasks, could actually disrupt language processing - fracturing our word network.

A subset of a network of 20,000 English words that sound similar, created by University of Kansas Professor of Psychology Michael Vitevitch. The keyword that holds together the other words is fish.
Credit: U. of Kansas, M. Vitevitch

Much like key players in social networks, University of Kansas scientists have found evidence that there are keywords in word networks that hold together groups of words in our memory.

Related Articles


In a study published in the Journal of Memory and Language, Michael Vitevitch, KU professor of psychology, showed that research participants recognized these keywords more quickly and accurately than other words that were like the keywords in many respects except for their position in a network of 20,000 similar-sounding English words that he and colleagues created in 2008.

"If words are indeed stored like a network in memory, said Vitevitch, "we should be able to see how characteristics of the network affect language-related processes. Our findings clearly show that there are words that hold key positions on the word network and that we process them more quickly and accurately than similar words that they hold together in our memory."

The existence of keywords opens up many possible real-life applications, according to Vitevitch, such as providing new insights into developmental and acquired language disorders and suggesting treatments.

"We might be able to teach these keywords to people who have word-finding problems after stroke, for example, and they might be able to reconnect everything else in their memory that these keywords are connected to," he said.

Keywords might also accelerate language learning, including a second language, if they were introduced early.

But there is a potential dark side to keywords -- if they are "removed" from our memory, they could fracture part of our word network, said Vitevitch.

Using the same mathematical techniques of network science that are used to develop networks that model social relationships or the spread of disease, Vitevitch analyzed his word network using a computer program called KeyPlayer that selected the keywords that, when removed, fractured parts of the network into smaller networks and isolated words.

"Fracturing the network in this way could actually disrupt language processing," said Vitevitch. "Even though we could remove keywords from research participants' memories through psycholinguistic tasks, we dared not because of concern that there would be long-term or even wide-spread effects."

Applying the techniques of network science to language opens up many new questions for scientists who study various aspects of language, said Vitevitch. "Similarly, the domain of language provides network scientists with a novel opportunity to test various hypotheses that they may not be able to do in other real-world systems because we can manipulate things in the laboratory that we can't ethically or practically manipulate in real life."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Kansas, Life Span Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael S. Vitevitch, Rutherford Goldstein. Keywords in the mental lexicon. Journal of Memory and Language, 2014; 73: 131 DOI: 10.1016/j.jml.2014.03.005

Cite This Page:

University of Kansas, Life Span Institute. "Keywords hold our vocabulary together in memory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519104739.htm>.
University of Kansas, Life Span Institute. (2014, May 19). Keywords hold our vocabulary together in memory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519104739.htm
University of Kansas, Life Span Institute. "Keywords hold our vocabulary together in memory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140519104739.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) — More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

RightThisMinute (Jan. 23, 2015) — Not only is Kathy seeing her newborn son for the first time, but this is actually the first time she has ever seen a baby. Kathy and her sister, Yvonne, have been legally blind since childhood, but thanks to an amazing new technology, eSight glasses, which gives those who are legally blind the ability to see, she got the chance to see the birth of her son. It&apos;s an incredible moment and an even better story. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com
One Dose, Then Surgery to Test Tumor Drugs Fast

One Dose, Then Surgery to Test Tumor Drugs Fast

AP (Jan. 23, 2015) — A Phoenix hospital is experimenting with a faster way to test much needed medications for deadly brain tumors. Patients get a single dose of a potential drug, and hours later have their tumor removed to see if the drug had any affect. (Jan. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins