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Case grammar

An approach in psycholinguistics in which the meaning of a sentence is determined by analysing the semantic roles or cases played by different words, such as which word names the overall relationship and which names the agent or patient of the action. Other cases include time, location and manner.


Case role (also semantic case)

One of the various semantic roles or functions of different words in a sentence.


Categorical perception

The perception of similar language sounds as being the same phoneme, despite the minor physical differences among them; for example, the classification of initial sounds of cool and keep as both being the /k/(hard c) phoneme, even though these initial sounds differ physically.


Category-specific deficit

A disruption in which a person loses access to one semantic category of words or concepts while not losing others.


Central executive

In Baddeley's working memory system, the mechanism responsible for assessing the attentional needs of the different subsystems and furnishing attentional resources to those subsystems.

Any executive or monitoring component of the memory system that is responsible for sequencing activities, keeping track of processes already completed, and diverting attention from one activity to another can be called an executive controller.


Central tendency

The idea that there is some mental core or centre to the category where the best members will be found.


Cerebral cortex



Cerebral hemispheres (left and right)

The two major structures in the neocortex. In most people the left cerebral hemisphere is especially responsible for language and other symbolic processing, and the right for nonverbal perceptual processing.


Cerebral lateralisation

The principle that different functions or actions within the brain tend to be localised in one or the other hemisphere. For instance, moron control of the left side of the body is lateralised in the right hemisphere of the brain.


change blindness

The failure to notice changes in visual stimuli (e.g. photographs) when those changes occur during a saccade.


Channel capacity

An early analogy for the limited capacity of the human information-processing system.


Characteristic feature

In the Smith et al. (1974) model of semantic memory, characteristic features are the features and properties of a concept that are common but not essential to the meaning of the concept; for example, 'eat worms' may be characteristic of 'BIRD', but the feature is not essential to the central meaning of the concept (contrasts with definition feature).



A unit or grouping of information held in short-term memory.


Classic view of categorisation

The view that takes the position that people create and use categories based on a system of rules that define necessary and sufficient features.



The grouping together of related items during recall (e.g. recalling the words apple, pear, banana, orange together in a cluster, regardless of their order of presentation).



The simultaneous or overlapping articulation of two or more of the phonemes in a word.



The collection of mental processes and activities used in perceiving, remembering, thinking, and understanding, and the act of using those processes.


Cognitive science

A new term designating the study of cognition from the multiple standpoints of psychology, linguistics, computer science and neuroscience.



In linguistics the internalised knowledge of language and its rules that fully fluent speakers of a language possess, uncontaminated by flaws in performance (contrasts with performance).


Conceptual knowledge

The fourth level of analysis of language in Miller's scheme, roughly equivalent to semantic memory.


Conceptually driven processing (top-down processing)

Mental processing is said to be conceptually driven when it is guided and assisted by the knowledge already store in memory (contrasts with data-driven processing).


Conditional reasoning

The form of reasoning in which logical consequences of an if-then statement and some evidence are determined; for example, given 'if it rains, then the picnic will be cancelled,' the phrase 'is is raining' determines whether the picnic is cancelled.


Conduction aphasia

A disruption of language in which the peso is unable to repeat what has just been heard.


Confirmation bias

In reasoning, the tendency to search for evidence that confirms a conclusion.


Conjunction fallacy

The mistaken belief that a compound of two characteristics can be more likely that either one of the characteristics by itself.


Connectionism (connectionist)

The terms refer to a recent development in cognitive theory, based on the notions that several levels of knowledge necessary for performance can be represented as massive, interconnected networks.

Performance consisted of a high level of parallel processing among several levels of knowledge; and that the basic building block of the interconnected networks is the simple connection between nodes stored in memory.

For instance, perception of spoken speech involves several levels of knowledge: knowledge of phonology, lexical information, syntax and semantics.

Processing at each level continually interacts with and influences processing at other levels, in parallel. The connections in connectionist modelling are the network pathways both within and among the levels of knowledge.


Conscious attention

Awareness; a slower attentional mechanism especially influenced by top-down processing.


Conscious processing

Mental processing that is intentional, involves conscious awareness, and consumes mental resources (contrasts with automatic, automaticity).



In conditional reasoning, the consequent is the 'then' statement; in 'if it rains, then the picnic will be cancelled,' the consequent is 'then the picnic will be cancelled'.



The more permanent establishment of memories in neural architecture.