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Title: Computational explorations of semantic cognition
Author: Rotaru, Armand Stefan
ISNI:       0000 0004 9353 4289
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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Motivated by the widespread use of distributional models of semantics within the cognitive science community, we follow a computational modelling approach in order to better understand and expand the applicability of such models, as well as to test potential ways in which they can be improved and extended. We review evidence in favour of the assumption that distributional models capture important aspects of semantic cognition. We look at the models’ ability to account for behavioural data and fMRI patterns of brain activity, and investigate the structure of model-based, semantic networks. We test whether introducing affective information, obtained from a neural network model designed to predict emojis from co-occurring text, can improve the performance of linguistic and linguistic-visual models of semantics, in accounting for similarity/relatedness ratings. We find that adding visual and affective representations improves performance, especially for concrete and abstract words, respectively. We describe a processing model based on distributional semantics, in which activation spreads throughout a semantic network, as dictated by the patterns of semantic similarity between words. We show that the activation profile of the network, measured at various time points, can account for response time and accuracies in lexical and semantic decision tasks, as well as for concreteness/imageability and similarity/relatedness ratings. We evaluate the differences between concrete and abstract words, in terms of the structure of the semantic networks derived from distributional models of semantics. We examine how the structure is related to a number of factors that have been argued to differ between concrete and abstract words, namely imageability, age of acquisition, hedonic valence, contextual diversity, and semantic diversity. We use distributional models to explore factors that might be responsible for the poor linguistic performance of children suffering from Developmental Language Disorder. Based on the assumption that certain model parameters can be given a psychological interpretation, we start from “healthy” models, and generate “lesioned” models, by manipulating the parameters. This allows us to determine the importance of each factor, and their effects with respect to learning concrete vs abstract words.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available