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

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>04/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Memory and Language
Volume93
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)1-21
Publication statusPublished
Early online date12/09/16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

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.