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The mental lexicon

General details of the subject

Face-to-face degree course

Description and contextualization of the subject

Spoken word production: Theories, models, dynamics; Bilingual speech production; Spoken word comprehension; Visual word recognition

Teaching staff

NameInstitutionCategoryDoctorTeaching profileAreaE-mail
GUEDICHE , SARABCBL- Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and
KAPNOULA , EFTHYMIABCBL- Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and


CE1. Advanced knowledge of the mental lexicon.25.0 %
CE2. Main research techniques in studies of the mental lexicon25.0 %
CE2. Main research techniques in studies of the mental lexicon25.0 %
CE4. Relating course content to areas of intervention, problems and demands of social and cultural contexts25.0 %

Study types

TypeFace-to-face hoursNon face-to-face hoursTotal hours
Applied classroom-based groups101020
Applied computer-based groups102535

Assessment systems

NameMinimum weightingMaximum weighting
Practical tasks50.0 % 50.0 %
Presentations50.0 % 50.0 %


Words, whether spoken, written or signed, form a key element in language production and comprehension.

This course provides an introduction into how words are represented and organized in our mental lexicon and how word form and meaning are retrieved during word production and recognition. Furthermore, the course will explore how new word forms and meanings are established in the lexicon and integrated with existing lexical representations. Other topics that will be covered include the time course of lexical processing, the role of storage versus computation, the role of frequency in word processing, and computational models of word recognition and production. Particular attention throughout the course will be given to lexical processing in bilinguals and the interaction between words from different languages in the mental lexicon.

Finally, the role of language modality differences will be explored by examining both auditory and visual word recognition, and also sign production and recognition.


Compulsory materials

There is no textbook for this class, a list of readings selected from scholarly articles and book chapters will be provided at the beginning of the course.

Basic bibliography

Abdel Rahman, R., & Melinger, A. (2009b). Semantic context effects in language production: A swinging lexical network proposal and a review. Language and Cognitive Processes, 24, 713 - 734.

Balota, D.A. (1994). Visual word recognition. In M.A. Gernsbacher (Ed.), Handbook of psycholinguistics, Academic Press, pp. 303-358.

Caramazza, A. (1997). How many levels of processing are there in lexical access? Cognitive Neuropsychology, 14, 177-208.

Castles, A. & Nation, K. (2006). How does orthographic learning happen? In S. Andrews (Ed.), From inkmarks to ideas: Challenges and controversies about word recognition and reading (pp. 151-179). Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

Collins, A. M., & Loftus, E. F. (1975). A spreading-activation theory of semantic processing. Psychological Review, 82, 407-428

Davis, C. J. (2006). Orthographic input coding: A review of behavioural evidence and current models. In S. Andrews (Ed.), From inkmarks to ideas: Current issues in lexical processin (pp. 180-206). Hove, UK: Psychology Press

Dell, G. S. (1986). A spreading-activation model of retrieval in sentence production. Psychological Review, 93, 283-321.

Dell, G. S., & O'Seaghdha, P. G. (1992). Stages of lexical access in language production. Cognition, 42, 287-314.

Dell, G. S., Chang, F., & Griffin, Z. M. (1999). Connectionist models of language production: Lexical access and grammatical encoding. Cognitive Science, 23, (4), 517-542.

Dumay, N., & Gaskell, M.G. (2007). Sleep-associated changes in the mental representation of spoken words. Psychological Science, 18, 35-39.

Foygel, D., & Dell, G. S. (2000). Models of impaired lexical access in speech production. Journal of Memory and Language, 43, 182-216.

Gaskell, M. G. & Ellis, A. W. (2009). Word learning and lexical development across the lifespan. Special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

Gaskell, M.G. & Dumay, N. (2003). Lexical competition and the acquisition of novel words. Cognition, 89, 105-132.

Gernsbacher, M. A., & Kaxchak, M. P. (2003). Neuroimaging studies of language production and comprehension. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 91-114.

Grainger, J. (2008). Cracking the orthographic code: An introduction. Language and Cognitive Processes, 23(1), 1-35.

Grainger, J., & Holcomb, P. J. (2009). Watching the Word Go by: On the Time-course of Component Processes in Visual Word Recognition. Language and Linguistics Compass, 3(1), 128-156.

Hickok, G., & Poeppel, D. (2007). The cortical organization of speech processing. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 8(5), 393-402. doi:10.1038/nrn2113

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