1Chapter 0 Theories of Semantic Processing
Semantics, broadly dened refers to meaning. The study of semantics has been important in the elds of linguistics, rhetoric, law, philosophy, and political science as far back as the ancient Greeks. For the modern student of communication disorders, the study of semantics is critical for understanding the nature of any given language decit. Why is this? It is because the intention of any communicative act ultimately is to convey meaning. The most common way that semantics impact communication disorders is that in both developmental and acquired disorders of language, there can be observed some abnormality with either the structure of, or access to, concepts or their interconnections. The semantic system is one way that humans store information in memory, and as such semantic problems are memory problems. This chapter will review the most inuential and widely researched theories of semantic representation. By the end of this chapter you will be familiar with local and distributed models as well as the concept of spreading activation. Further reading (e.g., Chapters 6, 11, and 12) will show that problems with semantics have been implicated in many of the most common disorders that a speech pathologist or other communication disorders professional will have to deal with on a regular basis, including the aphasias and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).