Project titleThe cost of learning new meanings for familiar words

Adults are highly skilled at learning new words and meanings. We examined whether learning new meanings for familiar words affects processing of their existing meanings. Thirty healthy young adults learnt new, fictitious meanings for previously unambiguous words through 30 min training sessions completed over four days. We tested comprehension of the existing meanings before and after the training using a semantic relatedness decision task where the probe was related to the existing but not the new meaning of the trained word. Following the training, RTs increased for the trained but not the untrained words, indicating semantic competition between the newly-acquired and the well-established meanings. The training effect was larger for new meanings unrelated to the existing meanings, demonstrating that meaning relatedness modulates the degree of semantic competition. Overall, the findings delineate how new word meanings are learnt, represented, and processed, and have important implications for existing models of ambiguity processing and learning in general.

Primary contact nameEkaterini Klepousniotou
Primary contact emailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
Primary contact mobile phone+97430239111
Other student team members
Student name Email Phone
Greg Maciejewski
Students/participant(s) programs
  • Other (NPRP, Seed, etc.)
Faculty advisor(s)
Advisor name Email Affiliation
Ekaterini Klepousniotou Carnegie Mellon University (Qatar)
For CMU-Q advisor(s), please select their program(s)
  • Arts and Sciences