An essential aspect of human communication is the ability to access and retrieve information from ones’ ‘mental lexicon’. This lexical access activates phonological and semantic components of concepts, yet the question whether and how these two components relate to each other remains widely debated. We harness tools from network science to construct a large-scale linguistic multilayer network comprising of phonological and semantic layers. We find that the links in the two layers are highly similar to each other and that adding information from one layer to the other increases efficiency by decreasing the network overall distances, but specifically affecting shorter distances. Finally, we show how a multilayer architecture demonstrates the highest efficiency, and how this efficiency relates to weak semantic relations between cue words in the network. Thus, investigating the interaction between the layers and the unique benefit of a linguistic multilayer architecture allows us to quantify theoretical cognitive models of lexical access.
Levy, O., Kenett, Y.N., Oxenberg, O. et al. Unveiling the nature of interaction between semantics and phonology in lexical access based on multilayer networks. Sci Rep 11, 14479 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-93925-y