This chapter tests the Component Theory of Skill Acquisition against phenomena reported in relation to the mental lexicon. Research on repetition priming with tasks such lexical decision is reviewed, as are theories of priming, and concepts, debates, and variables underlying the existing paradigm, such as single and double dissociation, modularity, age of acquisition, word frequency, and the innateness of language. The ability of a skill acquisition account to explain lexical data is considered, resulting in the conclusion that practice and transfer effects are similar in lexical and skill acquisition domains, supporting the existence of universal principles of learning. This argument is further developed with the proposal that the nature of a person's mental lexicon reflects their experiences with the linguistic world, and so should exhibit the distributional characteristics of this world. Evidence in support of this claim is presented, including work by Kirby, Zipf, and new data extracted from databases of word usage. The Component Theory of Skill Acquisition is assessed as providing a satisfactory account of lexical phenomena. However, at this point in the book, the theory is still missing a mechanism that would indicate how a lexicon might work. The beginnings of a proposal for such a mechanism are provided in the final sections of the chapter, where the work of Halloy on complex adaptive systems is introduced.
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