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How activation, entanglement, and searching a semantic network contribute to event memory

Publication Date
  • 080704 Information Retrieval And Web Search
  • 170201 Computer Perception Memory And Attention
  • 170203 Knowledge Representation And Machine Learning
  • Activation
  • Quantum-Like Entanglement
  • Semantic Networks
  • Semantic Memory
  • Working Memory
  • Priming
  • Extralist Cuing
  • Word Recognition
  • Reminding
  • Linguistics
  • Physics


Free association norms indicate that words are organized into semantic/associative neighborhoods within a larger network of words and links that bind the net together. We present evidence indicating that memory for a recent word event can depend on implicitly and simultaneously activating related words in its neighborhood. Processing a word during encoding primes its network representation as a function of the density of the links in its neighborhood. Such priming increases recall and recognition and can have long lasting effects when the word is processed in working memory. Evidence for this phenomenon is reviewed in extralist cuing, primed free association, intralist cuing, and single-item recognition tasks. The findings also show that when a related word is presented to cue the recall of a studied word, the cue activates it in an array of related words that distract and reduce the probability of its selection. The activation of the semantic network produces priming benefits during encoding and search costs during retrieval. In extralist cuing recall is a negative function of cue-to-distracter strength and a positive function of neighborhood density, cue-to-target strength, and target-to cue strength. We show how four measures derived from the network can be combined and used to predict memory performance. These measures play different roles in different tasks indicating that the contribution of the semantic network varies with the context provided by the task. We evaluate spreading activation and quantum-like entanglement explanations for the priming effect produced by neighborhood density.

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