chapter  2
24 Pages

Interactive Processing Through Spreading Activation

WithDavid E. Rumelhart, James L. McClelland

This chapter shows that communication proceeds through a spreading activation mechanism in which activation at one level "spreads" to neighboring levels. It explains a mechanism that is both closely tied to an empirical data base and that is sufficiently specific to compare the results of computer simulations of the model with the empirical data. Interactive processing is thus a form of cooperative processing in which knowledge at all levels of abstraction can come into play in the process of reading and comprehension. The integration process is assumed to occur slowly enough that very brief activations may come and go without necessarily entering perceptual experience or being accessible for purposes of responding; the longer an activation lasts, the more likely it is to be reportable. Nevertheless, the interactive nature of the processes involved give the model remarkable power and flexibility. A variety of different interpretations have been offered for the dependence of the word advantage on masking.