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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Structural Comparisons of Noun and Verb Networks in the Mental Lexicon


Recent studies have applied network-based approaches to analyze the organization and retrieval of specific semantic categories, with a focus on the animal category. The current study extended previous studies by using network science tools to quantitatively investigate the structural differences of noun and verb categories of various levels of specificity. Specific (animal and body movement) and general noun and verb networks were constructed from four verbal fluency tasks. Common network measures indicated that the two verb networks were more condensed and less modular than the noun networks, supporting that nouns are more well-organized in the mental lexicon than verbs. Comparing the specific and general networks within each lexical category also corroborated lexical semantic studies that nouns have a more clear hierarchical structure. The results of this paper, along with recent semantic network studies, provide converging evidence for the usefulness of network science in semantic memory research.

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