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Manuscript accepted at Memory and Cognition Preprint: Abstract Cognitive scientists have a long-standing interest in quantifying the structure of semantic memory. Here we investigate whether a commonly used paradigm to study the structure of semantic memory, the semantic fluency task, as well as computational methods from network science could be leveraged to explore the underlying knowledge structures of academic disciplines, such as Psychology or Biology. To compare the knowledge representations of individuals with relatively different levels of expertise in academic subjects, undergraduate students (i.e., experts) and pre-university high school students (i.e., novices) completed a semantic fluency task with cue words corresponding to general semantic categories (i.e., animals, fruits) and specific academic domains (e.g., psychology, biology). Network analyses of their fluency networks found that both domain-general and domain-specific semantic networks of undergraduates were more efficiently connected and less modular than the semantic networks of high school students. Our results provide an initial proof-of-concept that the semantic fluency task could be used by educators and cognitive scientists to study the representation of more specific domains of knowledge, potentially providing new ways of quantifying the nature of expert cognitive representations. Keywords: knowledge representation, semantic fluency task, semantic networks, expertise
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