About this Research Topic
Research on lexical representation and processing is fundamentally transdisciplinary. Researchers studying the mental representation and processing of words have emerged as creators of theories designed to predict and explain how humans ‘do’ language. The field has moved from a static view of the mental lexicon as a repository of lexical knowledge, to a dynamic cognitive system – a system that has lexical activity at its core.
There are two aspects to this dynamicity. The first is the dynamic change over time. Perhaps more than any other aspect of language, vocabulary changes throughout the lifespan. We learn words throughout childhood, and well beyond. And, these changes across the lifespan are not simply a matter of adding elements to a list. Because our vocabulary store is highly interconnected, the acquisition of new words results in changes across the system as a whole. It is important to note that the dynamic nature of language processing is linked to other domains of cognition. Thus, a key feature of lexical processing research is its capacity to advance the understanding of the interplay among language-specific and more general cognitive functions.
The second type of lexical dynamicity that is emerging as central to progress in the field concerns the interaction of cognitive processes with moment-by-moment changes in the real-world context of language use.
In sum, what we have seen over the past few years is a move away from the original conception of the cognitive vocabulary system as a ‘dictionary in the mind’ and toward a much more dynamic representation in which lexical processing systems change as a result of individuals interacting with the world. It is this that constitutes the point of departure for this Frontiers in Communication Research Topic on “Words in the World”.
The aim of this Frontiers in Communication Research Topic is to bring together the latest insights, findings, methodologies, and analytic techniques that advance the understanding of the dynamic nature of lexical knowledge and lexical ability, particularly in relation to real-world communicative situations. We thus welcome the submission of original research that addresses one or more of the topics below:
• New perspectives on the nature of lexical representation in the mind and brain
• New methodologies for the study of lexical processing
• New corpus resources, statistical techniques, and data visualization tools that can reveal the dynamic interaction of variables involved in lexical processing.
• Studies of individual differences in lexical processing
• Studies of language and/or cultural effects in lexical processing
• Studies of lexical processing across the lifespan
• Studies of situational effects in lexical processing
• Reports of application of lexical processing research to the solution of real-world challenges.
In this Frontiers in Communication Research Topic, we are particularly interested in submissions that are co-authored by established researchers and trainees (e.g., students and/or post-doctoral researchers).
Keywords: mental lexicon, lexical processing, dynamicity, individual differences, psycholinguistics
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.