Friday, August 1, 2008

Prototype Semantics, Crossword Puzzles and Memory

Prototype semantics again. Just one final note. The reason prototype categories are so semantically useful in solving crossword puzzles has much to do with memory and the way the brain functions. It has been shown that categorization increases recall and recall is better for high frequency items in a category than items lower in frequency. High frequency items, as the term is used in the previous sentence, should be recognized to mean the more prototypical members of a category. In addition, long term human memory relies mostly on semantic coding, as opposed to short term memory, which relies more on phonemic coding. Following is a quote from Psychologist Endel Tulving (1972) that sums up rather well the mutual importance and cooperation of categorization, memory and word meaning; “Semantic memory is a system for receiving, retaining and transmitting information about meaning of words, concepts and classification of concepts.”

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