Memory and Action

Authored by: Katinka Dijkstra , Rolf A. Zwaan

The Routledge Handbook of Embodied Cognition

Print publication date:  May  2014
Online publication date:  April  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415623612
eBook ISBN: 9781315775845
Adobe ISBN: 9781317688662


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Traditional theories viewed memory as the “great storehouse of information.” Since the late 1960s, researchers have begun thinking of information as stored in the form of semantic networks. The general idea was that concepts were stored in nodes and that the links between nodes indicated an association between the concepts. Several decades later, it became clear that there is a fundamental problem with this view. The problem is that the concepts are merely labels in the network, for example the label “whale” or “tree.” The network is merely a connection of linked labels. The labels have no meaning to the network; they only have meaning to the user. As Harnad (1990) put it, the network is parasitic on us. He dubbed this the grounding problem. The grounding problem suggests that semantic networks as just described cannot be a model of human memory.

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