First Advisor

Dr. Mark Basham

Thesis Committee Member(s)

Dr. Amy Schreier & Dr. Lara Narcisi


Dr. Nicholas Myklebust


Regis College

Degree Name


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access


Both neuroscience and linguistics study semantics, yet often in separation. Their independent pursuits may be experimentally productive, but prescribe their inability to fully predict or explain how language triggers meaning. Advances in neuroscience identify instances of lateralized language and frequently attribute word meaning retrieval to the temporal lobe, yet these findings are inevitably accompanied by the understanding that this type of cognitive ability is a result of neural interconnectivity. Meaning itself is associative, dependent on multiple neural bases to conceptualize, integrate, and coordinate information. That said, meaning is not a sole result of mental operation: external features such as the context, precedence, and conceptual frame in which a word is situated predispose the type of neural response and structural progression used to understand it. For instance, metaphors and implicatures require an alternate method of association compared to that of literal language. Establishments of the neural mechanisms that underlie semantic ability should account for these linguistic factors; reflectively, linguistic constraints that model semantic patterns should account for the neural bases of word association.

Date of Award

Spring 2024