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date: 24 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Word associations have been the topic of intensive study in psychology as they offer one of the most direct ways to learn about the mental lexicon. This chapter provides an overview of the role of word associations in psycholinguistic research. The first part explains what associative responses are, how they relate to lexical contiguities derived from language, and how recent developments have made possible the representation of the mental lexicon as a network using large association data sets. The second part discusses the implications of this network, concentrating on how lexical availability enhances word processing. This is followed by a discussion of new developments regarding the study of the global structure of large word association networks as they grow over time, and of lexical search and retrieval through the process of spreading activation. The chapter concludes with some suggestions for future directions.

Keywords: word associations, mental lexicon, priming, lexical availability, semantic networks, spreading activation, graph theory, vocabulary development

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