Spontaneous Rereading Within Sentences: Eye Movement Control and Visual Sampling

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Abstract

Three experiments examine the role of previously read text in sentence comprehension and the control of eye movements during spontaneous rereading. Spontaneous rereading begins with a regressive saccade and involves reinspection of previously read text. All 3 experiments employed the gaze-contingent change technique to modulate the availability of previously read text. In Experiment 1, previously read text was permanently masked either immediately to the left of the fixated word (beyond wordn) or more than 1 word to the left (beyond wordn-1). The results of Experiment 1 indicate that the availability of the word immediately to the left (wordn-1) is important for comprehension. Experiments 2 and 3 further explored the role of previously read text beyond wordn-1. In these studies, text beyond wordn-1 was replaced, retaining only word length information, or word length and shape information. Following a regression back within a sentence, meaningful text either reappeared or remained unavailable during rereading. The experiments show that the visual format of text beyond wordn-1 (the parafoveal postview) is important for triggering regressions. The results also indicate that, as least for more complex sentences, the availability of meaningful text is important in driving eye movement control during rereading.

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