Exploring the relations between word frequency, language exposure, and bilingualism in a computational model of reading

Padraic Monaghan, Ya Ning Chang, Stephen Welbourne, Marc Brysbaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals show differences in the extent to which psycholinguistic variables predict their responses for lexical processing tasks. A key variable accounting for much variance in lexical processing is frequency, but the size of the frequency effect has been demonstrated to reduce as a consequence of the individual's vocabulary size. Using a connectionist computational implementation of the triangle model on a large set of English words, where orthographic, phonological, and semantic representations interact during processing, we show that the model demonstrates a reduced frequency effect as a consequence of amount of exposure to the language, a variable that was also a cause of greater vocabulary size in the model. The model was also trained to learn a second language, Dutch, and replicated behavioural observations that increased proficiency in a second language resulted in reduced frequency effects for that language but increased frequency effects in the first language. The model provides a first step to demonstrating causal relations between psycholinguistic variables in a model of individual differences in lexical processing, and the effect of bilingualism on interacting variables within the language processing system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the relations between word frequency, language exposure, and bilingualism in a computational model of reading'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this