Eye Movements Reveal Effects of Visual Content on Eye Guidance and Lexical Access during Reading.
journal contributionposted on 24.10.2012, 08:56 by K. B. Paterson, V. A. McGowan, T. R. Jordan
Background: Normal reading requires eye guidance and activation of lexical representations so that words in text can be identified accurately. However, little is known about how the visual content of text supports eye guidance and lexical activation, and thereby enables normal reading to take place. Methods and Findings: To investigate this issue, we investigated eye movement performance when reading sentences displayed as normal and when the spatial frequency content of text was filtered to contain just one of 5 types of visual content: very coarse, coarse, medium, fine, and very fine. The effect of each type of visual content specifically on lexical activation was assessed using a target word of either high or low lexical frequency embedded in each sentence Results: No type of visual content produced normal eye movement performance but eye movement performance was closest to normal for medium and fine visual content. However, effects of lexical frequency emerged early in the eye movement record for coarse, medium, fine, and very fine visual content, and were observed in total reading times for target words for all types of visual content. Conclusion: These findings suggest that while the orchestration of multiple scales of visual content is required for normal eye-guidance during reading, a broad range of visual content can activate processes of word identification independently. Implications for understanding the role of visual content in reading are discussed.