The biocognition of the mental lexicon

Michael T. Ullman

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568971
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
The biocognition of the mental lexicon

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience



The mental lexicon is rooted in the biology of the brain. Therefore, understanding the biological bases of the lexicon is critical for a full understanding of the lexicon itself. The vast majority of research on the biology of the mental lexicon and other aspects of language has thus far focused on the level of structural brain anatomy. However, the roles of many other substrates, from cells to molecules to genes, must also be elucidated. One can ask a number of different questions about the biocognition of the mental lexicon. This article examines four broad issues, most—but not all—of which have been and continue to be major areas of research: biological substrates, separability, redundancy, and domain specificity. It also discusses brain regions other than the temporal lobes that underlie aspects of lexically related knowledge and processing. In addition, the article considers how acetylcholine and estrogen modulate aspects of the lexicon and conceptual semantics. Finally, it analyses the link between lexical memory and declarative memory.

Keywords: biocognition; mental lexicon; biology; biological substrates; separability; redundancy; domain specificity; brain regions; temporal lobes; conceptual semantics

Article.  14742 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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