Researchers explain our perception of polysemous words

Researchers from the HSE School of Linguistics and the Centre for Language and Brain carried out an experiment to find out how language speakers perceive the different meanings, or senses, of polysemous words. They found that the proximity of figurative senses to the literal sense affects their perception as  semantically different. In addition, they noticed that context affects one’s ability to notice semantic distinctions—it is harder to perceive the differences between perceive meanings that differ only slightly  when they are presented together with drastically different meanings. This is related to general cognitive mechanisms of attention: people pay attention to more salient  stimuli, which diverts their attention away from subtle differences. The study was published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal.,Researchers from the HSE School of Linguistics and the Centre for Language and Brain carried out an experiment to find out how language speakers perceive the different meanings, or senses, of polysemous words. They found that the proximity of figurative senses to the literal sense affects their perception as  semantically different. In addition, they noticed that context affects one’s ability to notice semantic distinctions—it is harder to perceive the differences between perceive meanings that differ only slightly  when they are presented together with drastically different meanings. This is related to general cognitive mechanisms of attention: people pay attention to more salient  stimuli, which diverts their attention away from subtle differences. The study was published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal.

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