New preprint: "Sensorimotor distance: A fully grounded measure of semantic similarity for 800 million concept pairs"

Together with my colleague and lab PILouise Connell, I have developed a new measure of semantic distance between concepts. It is based on the senses and body parts involved in experiencing those concepts — in other words it is fully grounded in sensorimotor experience. This sets it aside from other measures of semantic distance, such as those based on distributions of words in language, on encyclopaedic databases, or on lists of properties or features. It also is fairly comprehensive (thanks to the expansive norms collected by colleagues), with distances available for nearly 800,000,000 pairs of concepts.

Two panels. Both show arrangement of dots labelled with concepts. Left panel: select nouns for tools, emotions, fruit and celestial objects. Right panel: select verbs for leg, hand, mouth and cognitive actions
Left panel: select nouns for tools, emotions, fruit and celestial objects. Right panel: select verbs for leg, hand, mouth and cognitive actions. Within each panel, positions are based on sensorimotor distances between concepts, transformed into two dimensions using Sammon mapping.

The measure is described in a new preprint, and you can search, visualise and play around with the distances (e.g. the above image) using an online app I also developed.

Let us know if you do anything cool with it!