Reading sentences of uniform word length II: Very rapid adaptation of the preferred saccade length

Michael Cutter, Denis Drieghe, Simon P. Liversedge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the current study we investigated whether readers adjust their preferred saccade length (PSL) during reading on a trial-by-trial basis. The PSL refers to the distance between a saccade launch site and saccade target (i.e., the word center during reading) when participants neither undershoot nor overshoot this target (McConkie, Kerr, Reddix, & Zola, 1988). The tendency for saccades longer or shorter than the PSL to under or overshoot their target is referred to as the range error. Recent research by Cutter, Drieghe, and Liversedge (2017) has shown that the PSL changes to be shorter when readers are presented with thirty consecutive sentences exclusively made of three letter words, and longer when presented with thirty consecutive sentences exclusively made of five letter words. We replicated and extended this work by this time presenting participants with these uniform sentences in an unblocked design. We found that adaptation still occurred across different sentence types despite participants only having one trial to adapt. Our analyses suggested that this effect was driven by the length of the words readers were making saccades away from, rather than the length of the words in the rest of the sentence. We propose an account of the range error in which readers use parafoveal word length information to estimate the length of a saccade between the centre of two parafoveal words (termed the Centre-Based Saccade Length) prior to landing on the first of these words.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1435-1440
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin & Review
Volume25
Issue number4
Early online date25 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Keywords

  • eye movements
  • reading
  • saccadic targeting
  • systematic range error
  • preferred saccade length

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