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Representing Abstract and Concrete Concepts - Why and When Features should Feature

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We present novel evidence that abstract and concrete concepts are organized and represented differently in the mind, based on analyses of thousands of concepts in publicly available datasets and computational resources. First, we show that abstract and concrete concepts have differing patterns of association with other concepts. Second, we test recent hypotheses that abstract concepts are organized according to association, whereas concrete concepts are organized according to (semantic) similarity. Third, we present evidence suggesting that concrete representations are more strongly feature-based than abstract representations. We argue that degree of feature-based structure may fundamentally determine concreteness, and discuss the implications for both cognitive and computational models of meaning.

This talk is part of the NLIP Seminar Series series.

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