The human brain stores and retrieves words in a dynamic and personalized mental dictionary, influenced by individual experiences. This mental dictionary encompasses letters, sounds, semantics, and grammar, contributing to language comprehension and expression. While the organization of mental dictionaries remains a subject of debate among scholars, it is clear that they are not structured like alphabetized books but rather involve intricate neural networks across the brain.
- Personalized Mental Dictionaries: Each person’s mental dictionary is unique, shaped by their educational, cultural, and life experiences, resulting in varying vocabulary sizes.
- Organization of Mental Dictionaries: Scholars reject the notion of a single neuron per word (grandmother cell theory) and propose that neural networks across the brain collaboratively process word knowledge (parallel distributed processing).
- Dynamic Retrieval: Word retrieval in the brain is rapid and dynamic, with evidence suggesting word selection within 200 milliseconds of encountering an image.
- Tip-of-the-Tongue Phenomenon: The tip-of-the-tongue experience, where one knows a word but struggles to recall it, is a common aspect of human language, increasing with age.
- Word Retrieval Impairments: Individuals with language disorders like aphasia may experience difficulty with word retrieval, but treatments, including semantic feature analysis and phonomotor treatment, can help improve word retrieval abilities.