Semantic parafoveal-on-foveal effects and preview benefits in reading: Evidence from Fixation Related Potentials

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During reading parafoveal information can affect the processing of the word currently fixated (parafovea-on-fovea effect) and words perceived parafoveally can facilitate their subsequent processing when they are fixated on (preview effect). We investigated parafoveal processing by simultaneously recording eye movements and EEG measures. Participants read word pairs that could be semantically associated or not. Additionally, the boundary paradigm allowed us to carry out the same manipulation on parafoveal previews that were displayed until reader's gaze moved to the target words. Event Related Potentials time-locked to the prime-preview presentation showed a parafoveal-on-foveal N400 effect. Fixation Related Potentials time locked to the saccade offset showed an N400 effect related to the prime-target relationship. Furthermore, this later effect interacted with the semantic manipulation of the previews, supporting a semantic preview benefit. These results demonstrate that at least under optimal conditions foveal and parafoveal information can be simultaneously processed and integrated.

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