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Title: The role of episodic and semantic memory in learning new vocabulary
Author: Palmer, Shekeila Daisy
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 4815
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis investigates the process of vocabulary acquisition during adulthood. A series of experiments are presented which examine the way in which novel words become established in memory, and the different factors that influence this process. Experiments 1 and 2 explore the way in which the two languages of a bilingual are interconnected when the speaker has already achieved proficiency in their L2. These experiments provided neurophysiological evidence that the connections between words and concepts in bilingual memory are asymmetric in nature. Since these asymmetries are thought to arise from the way in which language is learned, experiments 3 and 4 explored how different learning strategies lead to qualitative differences in the way in which vocabulary is represented and demonstrated that direct links between novel words and existing concepts are more likely to form when participants are taught to associate novel words with pictures rather than with translation equivalents. It was also found that the AoA of the concept influences how easily a new translation is acquired and subsequently processed. Given that novel words do not always have translation equivalents in the Ll, experiment 5 examined semantic processing of novel words learnt by definition. It was observed that learners acquire the meanings of concrete words more easily than abstract words, and, after only a single learning session, N400 concreteness effects elicited by recently acquired concepts were comparable to those elicited by long-established representations. Finally, experiment 6 examined how newly acquired word representations change after a period of consolidation. Following extensive training on a number of novel and familiar words participants performed a recognition memory task immediately, and the following day. ERP responses revealed dissociation in the way in which memory for novel and familiar words changes over time. Familiar words were characterised by a pattern of overall loss, while recollection reposes to novel words actually increased over time. The theoretical significance of these findings is discussed, along with directions for future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available