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Congratulations to Dr Hannah Betts on Passing her Viva

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L-R: Eva Poort, Rachael Hulme, Becky Gilbert, Hannah Betts, Jenni Rodd, Matt Davis

Congratulations to Dr Hannah Betts who passed her viva with very minor corrections on Monday 14th May 2018. Her thesis is on ‘Retuning lexical-semantic representations on the basis of recent experience’. Thanks to Dr Jane Warren and Dr Matt Davis who were Hannah’s examiners.

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Symposium at Recent Meeting of the Psychonomic Society

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Symposium speakers at the International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Dr Jenni Rodd organised a symposium entitled ‘Learning Words from Experience: The Emergence of Lexical Quality’ at the recently-held International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society in Amsterdam.

Details of the talks that were included in the symposium can be found here: https://www.psychonomic.org/general/custom.asp?page=18AMSsymposia

Preprint: ‘The cost of learning new meanings for familiar words’

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Greg Maciejewski, Jenni Rodd, and collaborators have a new pre-print available on PsyArXiv, the details of which can be found below:

Title: The cost of learning new meanings for familiar words

Authors: Greg Maciejewski, Jennifer M. Rodd, Mark Mon-Williams, and Ekaterini Klepousniotou

Abstract:

Research has shown that adults are highly skilled at learning new words and meanings. Here, we examined whether learning new meanings for familiar words affects the processing of their existing meanings. In Experiments 1 and 2, adult participants learnt new, fictitious meanings for previously unambiguous words (e.g., “sip” denoting a small amount of computer data) through four 30-minute training sessions completed over four consecutive days. We tested participants’ comprehension of existing meanings before and after training using a semantic relatedness decision task in which the probe word was related to the existing but not the new meaning of the trained word (e.g., “sip-juice”). Following the training, responses were slower to the trained, but not to the untrained, words, indicating competition between newly-acquired and well-established meanings. Furthermore, consistent with studies of semantic ambiguity, the effect was smaller for meanings that were semantically related to existing meanings than for the unrelated counterparts, demonstrating that meaning relatedness modulates the degree of competition. Overall, the key findings confirm that new word meanings can be integrated into the mental lexicon after just a few days’ exposure, and provide support for current models of ambiguity that predict semantic competition in word comprehension.

Preprint: ‘Incidental learning and long-term retention of new word meanings from stories: The effect of number of exposures’

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Rachael Hulme, Dasha Barsky, and Jenni Rodd have a new pre-print available on PsyArXiv, the details of which can be found below:

Title: Incidental learning and long-term retention of new word meanings from stories: The effect of number of exposures

Authors: Rachael C. Hulme, Daria Barsky, and Jennifer M. Rodd

Abstract:

This study used a web-based naturalistic story-reading paradigm to investigate the impact of number of exposures on incidental acquisition and long-term retention of new meanings for known words in the native language (L1). Participants read one of four custom-written stories in which they encountered novel meanings (e.g., “a safe concealed within a piece of furniture”) for familiar words (e.g., “foam”). These meanings appeared two, four, six, or eight times in the narrative. The results showed reasonably good memory (assessed by cued recall of (i) novel meanings and (ii) word forms) after only two exposures, emphasising the importance of initial encounters. Accuracy in cued recall of novel meanings showed a linear, incremental increase with more exposures. Interestingly, there was no significant forgetting after one week, regardless of the number of exposures during training. This demonstrates the efficiency with which adults acquire new word meanings in L1 incidentally through reading and retain them well over time.

Talk by Rachael Hulme at UCL Language and Cognition Seminar Series

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Chandler House, UCL

Rachael Hulme, a PhD student in The Word Lab, will be giving a talk entitled “The benefit of tests for learning new meanings for familiar words from stories” as part of the Language and Cognition Seminar Series at UCL on Monday 16th April 1-2pm.

The talk will take place in room G10, Chandler House, 2 Wakefield Street, London WC1N 1PF. Details of the talk can be found below:

Title: The benefit of tests for learning new meanings for familiar words from stories.

Abstract: Adults must often learn new meanings for familiar words, for example due to language evolving with changes in technology (e.g. the internet-related meaning of “troll”), or when taking up a new subject or activity (e.g. the sailing term “boom”). Learning new word meanings generally takes place incidentally by inferring the new meaning from context, rather than through intentional memorisation. The studies I will present in this talk use a naturalistic web-based story-reading paradigm to examine adults’ incidental acquisition and long-term retention of novel, artificial meanings for familiar words. I will discuss the importance of testing memory immediately after learning for future retention of vocabulary learned in this way. I will look at how tests can benefit incidental and intentional learning of new meanings for familiar words, and the use of different test methods. I will discuss implications for vocabulary learning in educational settings.

Further details about the Language and Cognition Seminar Series can be found here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/research/language-and-cognition/language-and-cognition-events

Leverhulme DTC PhD Studentship Available for the Ecological Study of the Brain

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Interested in joining The Word Lab? Dr Jenni Rodd is looking to recruit a PhD student to work on a project on ‘Using natural language environments to study vocabulary
development across the lifespan’, starting October 2018.

Further information about the project is available here: Leverhulme Doctoral Training Programme for the Ecological Study of the Brain

Further information about the studentship is available here: http://ecologicalbrain.org/prospective-students/

Please note that the deadline to apply for the studentship is: 28th March 2018

Interested applicants should contact Dr Jenni Rodd in the first instance: j.rodd(at)ucl.ac.uk

 

New Paper: ‘Listeners and Readers Generalize Their Experience With Word Meanings Across Modalities’

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Becky Gilbert, Jenni Rodd, and collaborators have a new paper out (as an online first article) in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. The details of the paper can be found below:

Title: Listeners and Readers Generalize Their Experience With Word Meanings Across Modalities.

Authors: Rebecca A. Gilbert, Matthew H. Davis, Gareth M. Gaskell, and Jennifer M. Rodd

Abstract:

Research has shown that adults’ lexical-semantic representations are surprisingly malleable. For instance, the interpretation of ambiguous words (e.g., bark) is influenced by experience such that recently encountered meanings become more readily available (Rodd et al., 2016, 2013). However, the mechanism underlying this word-meaning priming effect remains unclear, and competing accounts make different predictions about the extent to which information about word meanings that is gained within one modality (e.g., speech) is transferred to the other modality (e.g., reading) to aid comprehension. In two Web-based experiments, ambiguous target words were primed with either written or spoken sentences that biased their interpretation toward a subordinate meaning, or were unprimed. About 20 min after the prime exposure, interpretation of these target words was tested by presenting them in either written or spoken form, using word association (Experiment 1, N = 78) and speeded semantic relatedness decisions (Experiment 2, N = 181). Both experiments replicated the auditory unimodal priming effect shown previously (Rodd et al., 2016, 2013) and revealed significant cross-modal priming: primed meanings were retrieved more frequently and swiftly across all primed conditions compared with the unprimed baseline. Furthermore, there were no reliable differences in priming levels between unimodal and cross-modal prime-test conditions. These results indicate that recent experience with ambiguous word meanings can bias the reader’s or listener’s later interpretation of these words in a modality-general way. We identify possible loci of this effect within the context of models of long-term priming and ambiguity resolution.

New Paper in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition

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Hannah Betts and other members of the Word Lab have a new paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, the details of which can be found below:

Title: Retuning of Lexical-Semantic Representations: Repetition and Spacing Effects in Word-Meaning Priming.

Authors: Hannah N. Betts, Rebecca A. Gilbert, Zhenguang G. Cai, Zainab B. Okedara, & Jennifer M. Rodd

Abstract:

Current models of word-meaning access typically assume that lexical-semantic representations of ambiguous words (e.g., ‘bark of the dog/tree’) reach a relatively stable state in adulthood, with only the relative frequencies of meanings and immediate sentence context determining meaning preference. However, recent experience also affects interpretation: recently encountered word-meanings become more readily available (Rodd et al., 2016, 2013). Here, 3 experiments investigated how multiple encounters with word-meanings influence the subsequent interpretation of these ambiguous words. Participants heard ambiguous words contextually-disambiguated towards a particular meaning and, after a 20- to 30-min delay, interpretations of the words were tested in isolation. We replicate the finding that 1 encounter with an ambiguous word biased the later interpretation of this word towards the primed meaning for both subordinate (Experiments 1, 2, 3) and dominant meanings (Experiment 1). In addition, for the first time, we show cumulative effects of multiple repetitions of both the same and different meanings. The effect of a single subordinate exposure persisted after a subsequent encounter with the dominant meaning, compared to a dominant exposure alone (Experiment 1). Furthermore, 3 subordinate word-meaning repetitions provided an additional boost to priming compared to 1, although only when their presentation was spaced (Experiments 2, 3); massed repetitions provided no such boost (Experiments 1, 3). These findings indicate that comprehension is guided by the collective effect of multiple recently activated meanings and that the spacing of these activations is key to producing lasting updates to the lexical-semantic network.

Eva Poort Awarded OSF Preregistration Challenge Prize

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We are pleased to announce that The Word Lab’s Eva Poort has been awarded one of the Open Science Framework’s (OSF’s) $1000 prizes for the Preregistration Challenge!

The prize was awarded for Eva’s article entitled ‘The cognate facilitation effect in bilingual lexical decision is influenced by task demands’ (Experiment 2 of the paper was preregistered through the Open Science Framework).

Eva was previously interviewed about her first experience of preregistration, you can read the interview in full here: The “Preregistration Challenge” – Interview with Eva Poort.

Further information about the OSF’s Preregistration Challenge is available here: https://cos.io/prereg/