Topics in Cognitive Science 3 (2):303-345 (2011)

Abstract Since their inception, distributional models of semantics have been criticized as inadequate cognitive theories of human semantic learning and representation. A principal challenge is that the representations derived by distributional models are purely symbolic and are not grounded in perception and action; this challenge has led many to favor feature-based models of semantic representation. We argue that the amount of perceptual and other semantic information that can be learned from purely distributional statistics has been underappreciated. We compare the representations of three feature-based and nine distributional models using a semantic clustering task. Several distributional models demonstrated semantic clustering comparable with clustering-based on feature-based representations. Furthermore, when trained on child-directed speech, the same distributional models perform as well as sensorimotor-based feature representations of children’s lexical semantic knowledge. These results suggest that, to a large extent, information relevant for extracting semantic categories is redundantly coded in perceptual and linguistic experience. Detailed analyses of the semantic clusters of the feature-based and distributional models also reveal that the models make use of complementary cues to semantic organization from the two data streams. Rather than conceptualizing feature-based and distributional models as competing theories, we argue that future focus should be on understanding the cognitive mechanisms humans use to integrate the two sources
Keywords Child‐directed speech  Latent Semantic Analysis  Semantic categorization  Word learning  Co‐occurrence models  Semantic modeling
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2010.01111.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,784
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Toward an Instance Theory of Automatization.Gordon D. Logan - 1988 - Psychological Review 95 (4):492-527.
Toward an Instance Theory of Automatization.G. D. Logan - 1987 - Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 25 (5):342-342.

View all 24 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Thinking in Words: Language as an Embodied Medium of Thought.Guy Dove - 2014 - Topics in Cognitive Science 6 (3):371-389.

View all 18 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
170 ( #64,808 of 2,463,161 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #449,391 of 2,463,161 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes