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The influence of semantic context on initial eye landing sites in words

By Frédéric Lavigne, Françoise Vitu and Géry d'Ydewalle


To determine the role of ongoing processing on eye guidance in reading, two studies examined the effects of semantic context on the eyes' initial landing position in words of different levels of processing diffculty. Results from both studies clearly indicate a shift of the initial fixation location towards the end of the words for words that can be predicted from a prior semantic context. However, shifts occur only in high-frequency words and with prior fixations close to the beginning of the target word. These results suggest that ongoing perceptual and linguistic processes can affect the decision of where to send the eyes next in reading. They are explained in terms of the easiness of processing associated with the target words when located in parafoveal vision. It is concluded that two critical factors might help observing effects of linguistic variables on initial landing sites, namely, the frequency of the target word and the position where the eyes are launched from as regards to the beginning of the target word. Results also provide evidence for an early locus of semantic context effects in reading

Topics: Cognitive Psychology, Perceptual Cognitive Psychology, Psycholinguistics
Publisher: Elsevier Science
Year: 2000
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