Adult Age differences in Eye Movements during Reading: The Evidence from Chinese
journal contributionposted on 14.03.2016, 10:41 by Kevin Paterson, Victoria A. McGowan, Sarah J. White, L. Li, S. Li, M. Chang, J. Wang, F. Xie
Objectives: Substantial evidence indicates that older readers of alphabetic languages (e.g., English and German) compensate for age-related reading difficulty by employing a more risky reading strategy in which words are skipped more frequently. The effects of healthy aging on reading behavior for nonalphabetic languages, like Chinese, are largely unknown, although this would reveal the extent to which age-related changes in reading strategy are universal. Accordingly, the present research used measures of eye movements to investigate adult age differences in Chinese reading. Method: The eye movements of young (18–30 years) and older (60+ years) Chinese readers were recorded. Results: The older adults exhibited typical patterns of age-related reading difficulty. But rather than employing a more risky reading strategy compared with the younger readers, the older adults read more carefully by skipping words infrequently, making shorter forward eye movements, and fixating closer to the beginnings of two-character target words in sentences. Discussion: In contrast with the findings for alphabetic languages, older Chinese readers appear to compensate for age-related reading difficulty by employing a more careful reading strategy. Age-related changes in reading strategy therefore appear to be language specific, rather than universal, and may reflect the specific visual and linguistic requirements of the writing system.