Mindless reading revisited: An analysis based on the SWIFT model of eye-movement control

A. Nuthmann, R. Engbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we revisit the mindless reading paradigm from the perspective of computational modeling. In the standard version of the paradigm, participants read sentences in both their normal version as well as the transformed (or mindless) version where each letter is replaced with a z. z-String scanning shares the oculomotor requirements with reading but none of the higher-level lexical and semantic processes. Here we use the z-string scanning task to validate the SWIFT model of saccade generation [Engbert, R., Nuthmann, A., Richter, E., \& Kliegl, R. (2005). SWIFT: A dynamical model of saccade generation during reading. Psychological Review, 112(4), 777-813] as an example for an advanced theory of eye-movement control in reading. We test the central assumption of spatially distributed processing across an attentional gradient proposed by the SWIFT model. Key experimental results like prolonged average fixation durations in z-string scanning compared to normal reading and the existence of a string-length effect on fixation durations and probabilities were reproduced by the model, which lends support to the model's assumptions on visual processing. Moreover, simulation results for patterns of regressive saccades in z-string scanning confirm SWIFT's concept of activation field dynamics for the selection of saccade targets. (c) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-336
Number of pages15
JournalVision Research
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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