Eye movements were monitored in 4 experiments that explored the role of parafoveal word length in reading. The experiments employed a type of compound word where the deletion of a letter results in 2 short words (e.g., backhand, back and). The boundary technique (K. Rayner, 1975) was employed to manipulate word length information in the parafovea. Accuracy of the parafoveal word length preview significantly affected landing positions and fixation durations. This disruption was larger for 2-word targets, but the results demonstrated that this interaction was not due to the morphological status of the target words. Manipulation of sentence context also demonstrated that parafoveal word length information can be used in combination with sentence context to narrow down lexical candidates. The 4 experiments converge in demonstrating that an important role of parafoveal word length information is to direct the eyes to the center of the parafoveal word.
eye movements; reading; parafoveal length information
Two experiments examined parafoveal preview for words located in the middle of sentences and at sentence boundaries. Parafoveal processing was shown to occur for words at sentence-initial, mid-sentence, and sentence-final positions. Both Experiments 1 and 2 showed reduced effects of preview on regressions out for sentence-initial words. In addition, Experiment 2 showed reduced preview effects on first-pass reading times for sentence-initial words. These effects of sentence position on preview could result from reduced parafoveal processing for sentence-initial words, or other processes specific to word reading at sentence boundaries. In addition to the effects of preview, the experiments also demonstrate variability in the effects of sentence wrap-up on different reading measures, indicating that the presence and time course of wrap-up effects may be modulated by text-specific factors. We also report simulations of Experiment 2 using version 10 of E-Z Reader (Reichle, Warren, & McConnell, 2009), designed to explore the possible mechanisms underlying parafoveal preview at sentence boundaries.
reading; eye movements; E-Z Reader; parafoveal preview; wrap-up effects
A crucial issue in word encoding is whether morphemes are involved in early stages. One paradigm that tests for this employs the transposed letter (TL) effect – the difference in the times to process a word (misfile) when it is preceded by a TL prime (mifsile) and when it is preceded by a substitute letter (SL) prime (mintile) – and examines whether the TL effect is smaller when the two adjacent letters cross a morpheme boundary. The evidence from prior studies is not consistent. Experiments 1 and 2 employed a parafoveal preview paradigm in which the transposed letters either crossed the prefix-stem boundary or did not, and found a clear TL effect regardless of whether the two letters crossed the morpheme boundary. Experiment 3 replicated this finding employing a masked priming lexical-decision paradigm. It thus appears that morphemes are not involved in early processes in English that are sensitive to letter order. There is some evidence for morphemic modulation of the TL effect in other languages; thus, the properties of the language may modulate when morphemes influence early letter position encoding.
The boundary paradigm (Rayner, 1975) with a novel preview manipulation was used to examine the extent of parafoveal processing of words to the right of fixation. Words n + 1 and n + 2 had either correct or incorrect previews prior to fixation (prior to crossing the boundary location). In addition, the manipulation utilized either a high or low frequency word in word n + 1 location on the assumption that it would be more likely that n + 2 preview effects could be obtained when word n + 1 was high frequency. The primary findings were that there was no evidence for a preview benefit for word n + 2 and no evidence for parafoveal-on-foveal effects when word n + 1 is at least four letters long. We discuss implications for models of eye-movement control in reading.
The present study examined how word-initial letters influence lexical access during reading. Eye movements were monitored as participants read sentences containing target words. Three factors were independently manipulated. First, target words had either high or low constraining word-initial letter sequences (e.g., dwarf or clown, respectively). Second, targets were either high or low in frequency of occurrence (e.g., train or stain, respectively). Third, targets were embedded in either biasing or neutral contexts (i.e., targets were high or low in their predictability). This 2 (constraint) × 2 (frequency) × 2 (context) design allowed us to examine the conditions under which a word’s initial letter sequence could facilitate processing. Analyses of fixation duration data revealed significant main effects of constraint, frequency, and context. Moreover, in measures taken to reflect “early” lexical processing (i.e., first and single fixation duration), there was a significant interaction between constraint and context. The overall pattern of findings suggests lexical access is facilitated by highly constraining word-initial letters. Results are discussed in comparison to recent studies of lexical features involved in word recognition during reading.
reading; eye movements; word-initial letter constraint; word frequency; contextual predictability
Participants’ eye movements were monitored in an experiment that manipulated the frequency of target words (high vs. low) as well as their availability for parafoveal processing during fixations on the pre-target word (valid vs. invalid preview). The influence of the word-frequency by preview validity manipulation on the distributions of first fixation duration was examined by using ex-Gaussian fitting as well as a novel survival analysis technique which provided precise estimates of the timing of the first discernible influence of word frequency on first fixation duration. Using this technique, we found a significant influence of word frequency on fixation duration in normal reading (valid preview) as early as 145 ms from the start of fixation. We also demonstrated an equally rapid non-lexical influence on first fixation duration as a function of initial landing position (location) on target words. The time-course of frequency effects, but not location effects was strongly influenced by preview validity, demonstrating the crucial role of parafoveal processing in enabling direct lexical control of reading fixation times. Implications for models of eye-movement control are discussed.
Eye movements; Reading; Lexical processing; Word frequency; Parafoveal preview; Direct control; Initial landing position; Fixation location; Fixation duration
The question of how the brain encodes letter position in written words has
attracted increasing attention in recent years. A number of models have
recently been proposed to accommodate the fact that transposed-letter
stimuli like jugde or caniso
are perceptually very close to their base words.
Here we examined how letter position coding is attained in the tactile
modality via Braille reading. The idea is that Braille word recognition may
provide more serial processing than the visual modality, and this may
produce differences in the input coding schemes employed to encode letters
in written words. To that end, we conducted a lexical decision experiment
with adult Braille readers in which the pseudowords were created by
transposing/replacing two letters.
We found a word-frequency effect for words. In addition, unlike parallel
experiments in the visual modality, we failed to find any clear signs of
transposed-letter confusability effects. This dissociation highlights the
differences between modalities.
The present data argue against models of letter position coding that assume
that transposed-letter effects (in the visual modality) occur at a
relatively late, abstract locus.
In this study, we examined eye movement guidance in Chinese reading. We embedded either a 2-character word or a 4-character word in the same sentence frame, and observed the eye movements of Chinese readers when they read these sentences. We found that when all saccades into the target words were considered that readers eyes tended to land near the beginning of the word. However, we also found that Chinese readers’ eyes landed at the center of words when they made only a single fixation on a word, and that they landed at the beginning of a word when they made more than one fixation on a word. However, simulations that we carried out suggest that these findings can’t be taken to unambiguously argue for word-based saccade targeting in Chinese reading. We discuss alternative accounts of eye guidance in Chinese reading and suggest that eye movement target planning for Chinese readers might involve a combination of character-based and word-based targeting contingent on word segmentation processes.
Eye movements; reading; Chinese reading
A comparison was made between reading tasks performed with and without the additional requirement of detecting target letters. At issue was whether eye movement measures are affected by the additional requirement of detection. Global comparisons showed robust effects of task type with longer fixations and fewer word skippings when letter detection was required. Detailed analyses of target words, however, further showed that reading with and without letter detection yielded virtually identical effects of word class and text predictability for word-skipping rate and similar effects for different word viewing duration measures. The overall oculomotor pattern suggested that detection does not substantially shift normal reading movements in response to lexical cues and thereby indicated that detection tasks are informative about word and specifically word class processing in normal reading.
We examined the use of lexeme meaning during the processing of spatially unified bilexemic compound words by manipulating both the location and the word frequency of the lexeme that primarily defined the meaning of a compound (i.e., the dominant lexeme). The semantically dominant and nondominant lexemes occupied either the beginning or the ending compound word location, and the beginning and ending lexemes could be either high- or low-frequency words. Three tasks were used—lexical decision, naming, and sentence reading—all of which focused on the effects of lexeme frequency as a function of lexeme dominance. The results revealed a larger word frequency effect for the dominant lexeme in all three tasks. Eye movements during sentence reading further revealed larger word frequency effects for the dominant lexeme via several oculomotor motor measures, including the duration of the first fixation on a compound word. These findings favor theoretical conceptions in which the use of lexeme meaning is an integral part of the compound recognition process.
The boundary paradigm (Rayner, 1975) was used to examine whether high level information affects preview benefit during Chinese reading. In two experiments, readers read sentences with a 1-character target word while their eye movements were monitored. In Experiment 1, the semantic relatedness between the target word and the preview word was manipulated so that there were semantically related and unrelated preview words, both of which were not plausible in the sentence context. No significant differences between these two preview conditions were found, indicating no effect of semantic preview. In Experiment 2, we further examined semantic preview effects with plausible preview words. There were four types of previews: identical, related & plausible, unrelated & plausible, and unrelated & implausible. The results revealed a significant effect of plausibility as single fixation and gaze duration on the target region were shorter in the two plausible conditions than in the implausible condition. Moreover, there was some evidence for a semantic preview benefit as single fixation duration on the target region was shorter in the related & plausible condition than the unrelated & plausible condition. Implications of these results for processing of high level information during Chinese reading are discussed.
Eye-movements; Reading Chinese; Preview benefit; Semantic and plausibility effects; Linguistics; Psycholinguistics; Interdisciplinary Studies; Neurology; Education (general); Languages and Literature
Eye movements of Chinese readers were monitored as they read sentences containing a critical character that was either a one-character word or the initial character of a two-character word. By manipulating the verb prior to the target word, the one-character target word (or the first character of the two-character target word) was either plausible or implausible, as an independent word, at the point at which it appeared, whereas the two-character word was always plausible. The eye movement data showed that the plausibility manipulation did not exert an influence on the reading of the-two character word or its component characters. However, plausibility significantly influenced reading of the one-character target word. These results suggest that processes of semantic integration in reading Chinese are performed at a word level, instead of a character level, and that word segmentation must take place very early in the course of processing.
Native Chinese readers’ eye movements were monitored as they read text that did or did not demark word boundary information. In Experiment 1, sentences had 4 types of spacing: normal unspaced text, text with spaces between words, text with spaces between characters that yielded nonwords, and finally text with spaces between every character. The authors investigated whether the introduction of spaces into unspaced Chinese text facilitates reading and whether the word or, alternatively, the character is a unit of information that is of primary importance in Chinese reading. Global and local measures indicated that sentences with unfamiliar word spaced format were as easy to read as visually familiar unspaced text. Nonword spacing and a space between every character produced longer reading times. In Experiment 2, highlighting was used to create analogous conditions: normal Chinese text, highlighting that marked words, highlighting that yielded nonwords, and highlighting that marked each character. The data from both experiments clearly indicated that words, and not individual characters, are the unit of primary importance in Chinese reading.
Chinese reading; spaced and unspaced text; eye movements
We examined the effects of letter transposition in Hebrew in three masked-priming experiments. Hebrew, like English has an alphabetic orthography where sequential and contiguous letter strings represent phonemes. However, being a Semitic language it has a non-concatenated morphology that is based on root derivations. Experiment 1 showed that transposed-letter (TL) root primes inhibited responses to targets derived from the non-transposed root letters, and that this inhibition was unrelated to relative root frequency. Experiment 2 replicated this result and showed that if the transposed letters of the root created a nonsense-root that had no lexical representation, then no inhibition and no facilitation were obtained. Finally, Experiment 3 demonstrated that in contrast to English, French, or Spanish, TL nonword primes did not facilitate recognition of targets, and when the root letters embedded in them consisted of a legal root morpheme, they produced inhibition. These results suggest that lexical space in alphabetic orthographies may be structured very differently in different languages if their morphological structure diverges qualitatively. In Hebrew, lexical space is organized according to root families rather than simple orthographic structure, so that all words derived from the same root are interconnected or clustered together, independent of overall orthographic similarity.
Morphology; Letter Transposition; Hebrew; Masked-Priming
Many words in the English language contain semantically and morphologically unrelated smaller words (e.g., room in groom). Recent findings indicate that a high frequency embedded word produces interference during visual word identification (e.g., Bowers, Davis, & Hanley, 2005; Davis, Perea, & Acha, 2009; Davis & Taft, 2005). In an eye movement experiment we examined whether lexical embeddings produce interference even when explicit judgments about lexicality or category membership are not solicited. Participants silently read sentences that each contained a target word with a lexical embedding. Fixation times were longer on target words that contained a higher frequency embedding compared to those that contained a lower frequency embedding. This finding indicates that a high frequency embedding interferes with word identification during silent reading and adds to a growing body of evidence that a word’s orthographic neighborhood includes embedded words.
Reading; word recognition; eye movements; orthographic neighbor; lexical embedding
Investigations of the impact of morphemic boundaries on transposed-letter priming effects have yielded conflicting results. Five masked priming lexical decision experiments were conducted to examine the interaction of letter transpositions and morphemic boundaries with English suffixed derivations. Experiments 1-3 found that responses to monomorphemic target words (e.g., SPEAK) were facilitated to the same extent by morphologically related primes containing letter transpositions that did (SPEAEKR) or did not (SPEKAER) cross a morphemic boundary. This pattern was also observed in Experiments 4 and 5, in which the targets (e.g. SPEAKER) were the base forms of the transposed-letter primes. Thus, in these experiments the influence of the morphological structure of a transposed-letter prime did not depend on whether the letter transposition crossed a morphological boundary.
Although nouns are easily learned in early stages of lexical development, their
role in adult word and text comprehension remains unexplored thus far. To
investigate the role of different word classes (open-class words: nouns,
adjectives, verbs; closed-class words: pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions,
etc.), 141 participants read a transposed German text while recording eye
movements. Subsequently, participants indicated words they found difficult and
reproduced the story. Then, participants were presented an untransposed text
version while also tracking eye movements. Word difficulty, subjectively
assessed by an interview and objectively by eye movement criteria (general
fixation rate, number of fixations on specific words), text comprehension
scores, and regressive fixations from one word class to another in the
transposed text indicated that the noun was the most influential word class in
enhancing the comprehension of other words. Developmental, intercultural, and
neurophysiological aspects of noun dominance are discussed.
word class; noun–verb debate; word comprehension; transposed word reading; eye movements
Phonologic text alexia (PhTA) is a reading disorder in which reading of pseudowords is impaired, but reading of real words is impaired only when reading text. Oral reading accuracy remains well preserved when words are presented individually, but when presented in text the part-of-speech effect that is often seen in phonologic alexia (PhA) emerges.
To determine whether repetition priming could strengthen and/or maintain the activation of words during text reading.
Methods & Procedures
We trained NYR, a patient with PhTA, to use a strategy, Sentence Building, designed to improve accuracy of reading words in text. The strategy required NYR to first read the initial word, and then build up the sentence by adding on sequential words, in a step-wise manner, utilizing the benefits of repetition priming to enhance accuracy.
Outcomes & Results
When using the strategy, NYR displayed improved accuracy not only for sentences she practiced using the strategy, but unpracticed sentences as well. Additionally, NYR performed better on a test of comprehension when using the strategy, as compared to without the strategy.
In light of research linking repetition priming to increased neural processing efficiency, our results suggest that use of this compensatory strategy improves reading accuracy and comprehension by temporarily boosting phonologic activation levels.
phonologic text alexia; repetition priming; aphasia; alexia; rehabilitation
The current study investigated the degree to which semantic integration processes (“wrap-up”) during sentence understanding demand attentional resources by examining the effects of clause and sentence wrap-up on the parafoveal preview benefit in younger and older adults. The parafoveal preview benefit (PPB) is defined as facilitation in processing word N+1 based on information extracted while the eyes are fixated on word N, and is known to be reduced by processing difficulty at word N. Participants read passages in which word N occurred in a sentence-internal, clause-final, or sentence-final position and a gaze-contingent boundary change paradigm was used to manipulate the information available in parafoveal vision for word N+1. Wrap-up effects were found on word N for both younger and older adults. Early pass measures (first fixation duration and single fixation duration) of the PPB on Word N+1 were reduced by clause wrap-up and sentence wrap-up on word N, with similar effects for younger and older adults. However, for intermediate (gaze duration) and later pass measures (regression path duration, and selective regression path duration), sentence wrap-up (but not clause wrap-up) on word N differentially reduced the PPB of word N+1 for older adults. These findings suggest that wrap-up is demanding and may be less efficient with advancing age, resulting in a greater cognitive processing load for older readers.
reading; sentence processing; parafoveal preview; eye-tracking
Normal reading requires eye guidance and activation of lexical representations so that words in text can be identified accurately. However, little is known about how the visual content of text supports eye guidance and lexical activation, and thereby enables normal reading to take place.
Methods and Findings
To investigate this issue, we investigated eye movement performance when reading sentences displayed as normal and when the spatial frequency content of text was filtered to contain just one of 5 types of visual content: very coarse, coarse, medium, fine, and very fine. The effect of each type of visual content specifically on lexical activation was assessed using a target word of either high or low lexical frequency embedded in each sentence
No type of visual content produced normal eye movement performance but eye movement performance was closest to normal for medium and fine visual content. However, effects of lexical frequency emerged early in the eye movement record for coarse, medium, fine, and very fine visual content, and were observed in total reading times for target words for all types of visual content.
These findings suggest that while the orchestration of multiple scales of visual content is required for normal eye-guidance during reading, a broad range of visual content can activate processes of word identification independently. Implications for understanding the role of visual content in reading are discussed.
This article reports the results of an eye-tracking experiment that investigated the processing of coordinate structures in Chinese sentence comprehension. The study tracked the eye movements of native Chinese readers as they read sentences consisting of two independent clauses connected by the word huo zhe. The data strongly confirmed readers' preference for an initial noun phrase (NP)-coordination parsing in Chinese coordination structure. When huo zhe was absent from the beginning of a sentence, we identified a cost associated with abandoning the NP-coordination analysis, which was evident with regard to the second NP when the coordination was unambiguous. Otherwise, this cost was evident with regard to the verb, the syntactically disambiguating region, when the coordination was ambiguous. However, the presence of a sentence-initial huo zhe reduced reading times and regressions in the huo zhe NP and the verb regions. We believe that the word huo zhe at the beginning of a sentence helps the reader predict that the sentence contains a parallel structure. Before the corresponding phrases appear, the readers can use the word huo zhe and the language structure thereafter to predicatively construct the syntactic structure. Such predictive capability can eliminate the reader's preference for NP-coordination analysis. Implications for top-down parsing theory and models of initial syntactic analysis and reanalysis are discussed.
Rapid, accurate reading is possible when isolated, single words from a sentence are sequentially presented at a fixed spatial location. We investigated if reading of words and sentences is possible when single letters are rapidly presented at the fovea under user-controlled or automatically controlled rates. When tested with complete sentences, trained participants achieved reading rates of over 60 wpm and accuracies of over 90% with the single letter reading (SLR) method and naive participants achieved average reading rates over 30 wpm with greater than 90% accuracy. Accuracy declined as individual letters were presented for shorter periods of time, even when the overall reading rate was maintained by increasing the duration of spaces between words. Words in the lexicon that occur more frequently were identified with higher accuracy and more quickly, demonstrating that trained participants have lexical access. In combination, our data strongly suggest that comprehension is possible and that SLR is a practicable form of reading under conditions in which normal scanning of text is not possible, or for scenarios with limited spatial and temporal resolution such as patients with low vision or prostheses.
visual prosthesis; bionic vision; low vision; reading; RSVP; phosphene; word recognition
In the current paper, we introduce a new methodology for detecting whether a word in a sentence is conceptually represented as plural and use it to shed light on a debate about whether comprehenders interpret singular indefinite noun phrases within a distributed predicate as plural during on-line reading. Experiment 1 extended a methodology previously used by Berent, Pinker, Tzelgov, Bibi, and Goldfarb (2005) to test individual words or word pairs by, at a critical word, having readers judge whether one or two words appeared on a computer screen while performing self-paced reading on a sentence presented in one- and two-word chunks. Consistent with Berent et al., Experiment 1 indicated that participants were slower to judge that one word was on the screen when the word was plural (e.g., cats) than when it was singular (e.g., cat). Experiment 2 used this paradigm to show that readers build different conceptual representations for distributed versus collective predicates, and interpret a singular indefinite noun phrase within a distributed predicate as plural (e.g., Kaup, Kelter, & Habel, 2002, but cf. Filik, Paterson, & Liversedge, 2004; Paterson, Filik, & Liversedge, 2008).
The visual word recognition system recruits neuronal systems originally developed for object perception which are characterized by orientation insensitivity to mirror reversals. It has been proposed that during reading acquisition beginning readers have to “unlearn” this natural tolerance to mirror reversals in order to efficiently discriminate letters and words. Therefore, it is supposed that this unlearning process takes place in a gradual way and that reading expertise modulates mirror-letter discrimination. However, to date no supporting evidence for this has been obtained. We present data from an eye-movement study that investigated the degree of sensitivity to mirror-letters in a group of beginning readers and a group of expert readers. Participants had to decide which of the two strings presented on a screen corresponded to an auditorily presented word. Visual displays always included the correct target word and one distractor word. Results showed that those distractors that were the same as the target word except for the mirror lateralization of two internal letters attracted participants’ attention more than distractors created by replacement of two internal letters. Interestingly, the time course of the effects was found to be different for the two groups, with beginning readers showing a greater tolerance (decreased sensitivity) to mirror-letters than expert readers. Implications of these findings are discussed within the framework of preceding evidence showing how reading expertise modulates letter identification.
The ability to identify letters and encode their position is a crucial step of the word recognition process. However and despite their word identification problem, the ability of dyslexic children to encode letter identity and letter-position within strings was not systematically investigated. This study aimed at filling this gap and further explored how letter identity and letter-position encoding is modulated by letter context in developmental dyslexia. For this purpose, a letter-string comparison task was administered to French dyslexic children and two chronological age (CA) and reading age (RA)-matched control groups. Children had to judge whether two successively and briefly presented four-letter strings were identical or different. Letter-position and letter identity were manipulated through the transposition (e.g., RTGM vs. RMGT) or substitution of two letters (e.g., TSHF vs. TGHD). Non-words, pseudo-words, and words were used as stimuli to investigate sub-lexical and lexical effects on letter encoding. Dyslexic children showed both substitution and transposition detection problems relative to CA-controls. A substitution advantage over transpositions was only found for words in dyslexic children whereas it extended to pseudo-words in RA-controls and to all type of items in CA-controls. Letters were better identified in the dyslexic group when belonging to orthographically familiar strings. Letter-position encoding was very impaired in dyslexic children who did not show any word context effect in contrast to CA-controls. Overall, the current findings point to a strong letter identity and letter-position encoding disorder in developmental dyslexia.
letter-string processing; letter-position encoding; letter-identity encoding; letter transposition; letter substitution; reading acquisition; dyslexic children