University of Connecticut

Events Calendar

UConn Distinguished Guest Professor Colloquium: Ken McRae

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
3:30pm – 5:00pm

Storrs Campus
Oak 101

Title: The Organization and Structure of Concepts in Semantic Memory

Abstract: People use concepts and word meaning every day to recognize entities and objects in their environment, to anticipate how entities will behave and interact with each other, to know how objects should be used, and to understand language. Over the years, a number of theories have been presented regarding how concepts are organized and structured in semantic memory. For example, various theories stress that concepts (or lexical items) are linked by undifferentiated associations. Other theories stress hierarchical categorical (taxonomic) structure, whereas still others focus on similarity among concepts. In this talk, I will present evidence that people’s knowledge of real- world situations is an important factor underlying the organization and structure of concepts in semantic memory. I will present experiments spanning word, picture, and discourse processing. Evidence for the importance of situation-based knowledge will cover a number of types of concepts, including verbs, nouns denoting living and nonliving things, other types of relatively concrete noun concepts, and abstract concepts. I will conclude that semantic memory is structured in our mind so that the computation and use of knowledge of real-world situations is both rapid and fundamental.

Reception to follow in the Skip Lowe Atrium (Bousfield Annex)


Russell Richie,

Cognitive Science Program (primary), Linguistics Department, Philosophy Department, Psychology Department, Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, UConn Master Calendar

Control Panel