Theory, Models, and Measurement of the Life Span Development of the Mental Lexicon 


“(...) we make search in our memory for a forgotten idea, just as we rummage our house for a lost object. In both cases we visit what seems to us the probable neighborhood of that which we miss. We turn over the things under which, or within which, or alongside of which, it may possibly be; and if it lies near them, it soon comes to view. But these matters, in the case of a mental object sought, are nothing but its associates.”

William James, 1890, in The Principles of Psychology

Background and Goals

Understanding the mental lexicon and its development requires a good grasp of memory, language, and cognitive search processes. Recent years have seen considerable advances in each of these areas including a boon of new models and data. Yet, knowledge from these fields has not been fully integrated to understand the structure of the mental lexicon and how this changes across the life span.

The Symposium on the Aging Lexicon took place in Basel, June 7-9, 2018, and gathered experts in Psychology, Linguistics, Neuroscience, and related fields to discuss open issues with the goal of building bridges between the various perspectives, fostering research on the lifespan development of the mental lexicon, and accelerating future progress in this area. A list of organisers and participants can be found below.

The participants have initiated a compilation of resources that are potentially useful to researchers interested in the life span development of lexical and semantic knowledge which can be found here.