Modeling Semantic Memory: Effects of Presenting Semantic Information in Different Modalities

Unknown author (1978-04-01)

How is semantic information from different modalities integrated and stored? If related ideas are encountered in French and English, or in pictures and sentences, is the result a single representation in memory or two modality-dependent ones? Subjects were presented with items in different modalities, then were asked whether or not subsequently presented items were identical with the former ones. Subjects frequently accepted translations and items semantically consistent with those presented earlier as identical, although not as often as they accepted items actually seen previously. The same pattern of results was found when the items were French and English sentences, and when they were pictures and sentences. The results can be explained by the hypothesis that subjects integrate information across modalities into a single underlying semantic representation. A computer model, embodying this hypothesis, made predictions in close agreement with the data.