Distinctiveness and correlation in conceptual structure: behavioral and computational studies

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2004 Mar;30(2):393-406. doi: 10.1037/0278-7393.30.2.393.


Patients with category-specific deficits have motivated a range of hypotheses about the structure of the conceptual system. One class of models claims that apparent category dissociations emerge from the internal structure of concepts rather than fractionation of the system into separate substores. This account claims that distinctive properties of concepts in the living domain are vulnerable because of their weak correlation with other features. Given the assumption that mutual activation among correlated properties produces faster activation in the normal system, the authors predicted a disadvantage for the distinctive features of living things for unimpaired adults. Results of a speeded feature verification study supported this prediction, as did a computational simulation in which networks mapped from orthography to semantics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Concept Formation*
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Paired-Associate Learning*
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Reaction Time*
  • Reading
  • Regression Analysis
  • Semantics
  • Set, Psychology
  • Statistics as Topic