Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent in children and adolescents, and are associated with aberrant emotion-related attention orienting and inhibitory control. While recent studies conducted with high-trait anxious adults have employed novel emotion-modified antisaccade tasks to examine the influence of emotional information on orienting and inhibition, similar studies have yet to be conducted in youths.
Participants were 22 children/adolescents diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and 22 age-matched healthy comparison youths. Participants completed an emotion-modified antisaccade task that was similar to those used in studies of high-trait anxious adults. This task probed the influence of abruptly appearing neutral, happy, angry, or fear stimuli on orienting (prosaccade) or inhibitory (antisaccade) responses.
Anxious compared to healthy children showed facilitated orienting towards angry stimuli. With respect to inhibitory processes, threat-related information improved antisaccade accuracy in healthy but not anxious youth. These findings were not linked to individual levels of reported anxiety or specific anxiety disorders.
Findings suggest that anxious relative to healthy children manifest enhanced orienting towards threat-related stimuli. Additionally, the current findings suggest that threat may modulate inhibitory control during adolescent development.
Anxiety; Development; Children; Emotion; Orienting; Inhibition; Bias; Saccade
While there has been a fair amount of research investigating children’s syntactic processing during spoken language comprehension, and a wealth of research examining adults’ syntactic processing during reading, as yet very little research has focused on syntactic processing during text reading in children. In two experiments, children and adults read sentences containing a temporary syntactic ambiguity while their eye movements were monitored. In Experiment 1, participants read sentences such as, ‘The boy poked the elephant with the long stick/trunk from outside the cage’ in which the attachment of a prepositional phrase was manipulated. In Experiment 2, participants read sentences such as, ‘I think I’ll wear the new skirt I bought tomorrow/yesterday. It’s really nice’ in which the attachment of an adverbial phrase was manipulated. Results showed that adults and children exhibited similar processing preferences, but that children were delayed relative to adults in their detection of initial syntactic misanalysis. It is concluded that children and adults have the same sentence-parsing mechanism in place, but that it operates with a slightly different time course. In addition, the data support the hypothesis that the visual processing system develops at a different rate than the linguistic processing system in children.
The extent to which target words were predictable from prior context was varied: half of the target words were predictable and the other half were unpredictable. In addition, the length of the target word varied: the target words were short (4–6 letters), medium (7–9 letters), or long (10–12 letters). Length and predictability both yielded strong effects on the probability of skipping the target words and on the amount of time readers fixated the target words (when they were not skipped). However, there was no interaction in any of the measures examined for either skipping or fixation time. The results demonstrate that word predictability (due to contextual constraint) and word length have strong and independent influences on word skipping and fixation durations. Furthermore, since the long words extended beyond the word identification span, the data indicate that skipping can occur on the basis of partial information in relation to word identity.
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
The present study employs a stereoscopic manipulation to present sentences in three dimensions to subjects as they read for comprehension. Subjects read sentences with (a) no depth cues, (b) a monocular depth cue that implied the sentence loomed out of the screen (i.e., increasing retinal size), (c) congruent monocular and binocular (retinal disparity) depth cues (i.e., both implied the sentence loomed out of the screen) and (d) incongruent monocular and binocular depth cues (i.e., the monocular cue implied the sentence loomed out of the screen and the binocular cue implied it receded behind the screen). Reading efficiency was mostly unaffected, suggesting that reading in three dimensions is similar to reading in two dimensions. Importantly, fixation disparity was driven by retinal disparity; fixations were significantly more crossed as readers progressed through the sentence in the congruent condition and significantly more uncrossed in the incongruent condition. We conclude that disparity depth cues are used on-line to drive binocular coordination during reading.
This study investigated whether “intentional” instructions could improve older adults' object memory and object-location memory about a scene by promoting object-oriented viewing. Eye movements of younger and older adults were recorded while they viewed a photograph depicting 12 household objects in a cubicle with or without the knowledge that memory about these objects and their locations would be tested (intentional vs. incidental encoding). After viewing, participants completed recognition and relocation tasks. Both instructions and age affected viewing behaviors and memory. Relative to incidental instructions, intentional instructions resulted in more accurate memory about object identity and object-location binding, but did not affect memory accuracy about overall positional configuration. More importantly, older adults exhibited more object-oriented viewing in the intentional than incidental condition, supporting the environmental support hypothesis.
Children with developmental dyslexia show reading impairment compared to their peers, despite being matched on IQ, socio-economic background, and educational opportunities. The neurological and cognitive basis of dyslexia remains a highly debated topic. Proponents of the magnocellular theory, which postulates abnormalities in the M-stream of the visual pathway cause developmental dyslexia, claim that children with dyslexia have deficient binocular coordination, and this is the underlying cause of developmental dyslexia. We measured binocular coordination during reading and a non-linguistic scanning task in three participant groups: adults, typically developing children, and children with dyslexia. A significant increase in fixation disparity was observed for dyslexic children solely when reading. Our study casts serious doubts on the claims of the magnocellular theory. The exclusivity of increased fixation disparity in dyslexics during reading might be a result of the allocation of inadequate attentional and/or cognitive resources to the reading process, or suboptimal linguistic processing per se.
Kennedy and Pynte (2008) presented data that they suggested pose problems for models of eye movement control in reading in which words are encoded serially. They focus on situations in which pairs of words are fixated out of order (i.e., the first word is skipped and the second fixated prior to a regression back to the first word). We strongly disagree with their claims and contest their arguments. We argue that their data set was obtained selectively and the events they believe are problematic do not occur frequently during reading. Furthermore, we do not consider that Kennedy and Pynte’s arguments pose serious difficulties for serial models of reading such as E-Z Reader.
Two experiments were undertaken to examine whether there is an age-related change in the speed with which readers can capture visual information during fixations in reading. Children’s and adults’ eye movements were recorded as they read sentences that were presented either normally or as “disappearing text”. The disappearing text manipulation had a surprisingly small effect on the children, inconsistent with the notion of an age-related change in the speed with which readers can capture visual information from the page. Instead, we suggest that differences between adults and children are related to the level of difficulty of the sentences for readers of different ages.
children; eye movements; reading
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
The eye movements of 24 children and 24 adults were monitored to compare how they read sentences containing plausible, implausible, and anomalous thematic relations. In the implausible condition the incongruity occurred due to the incompatibility of two objects involved in the event denoted by the main verb. In the anomalous condition the direct object of the verb was not a possible verb argument. Adults exhibited immediate disruption with the anomalous sentences as compared to the implausible sentences as indexed by longer gaze durations on the target word. Children exhibited the same pattern of effects as adults as far as the anomalous sentences were concerned, but exhibited delayed effects of implausibility. These data indicate that while children and adults are alike in their basic thematic assignment processes during reading, children may be delayed in the efficiency with which they are able to integrate pragmatic and real-world knowledge into their discourse representation.
Participants’ eye movements were recorded as they read sentences with words containing transposed adjacent letters. Transpositions were either external (e.g., problme, rpoblem) or internal (e.g., porblem, probelm) and at either the beginning (e.g., rpoblem, porblem) or end (e.g., problme, probelm) of words. The results showed disruption for words with transposed letters compared to the normal baseline condition, and the greatest disruption was observed for word-initial transpositions. In Experiment 1, transpositions within low frequency words led to longer reading times than when letters were transposed within high frequency words. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the position of word-initial letters is most critical even when parafoveal preview of words to the right of fixation is unavailable. The findings have important implications for the roles of different letter positions in word recognition and the effects of parafoveal preview on word recognition processes.
reading; eye movements; word recognition; transposed letters; parafoveal processing