Aging and the Optimal Viewing Position Effect in Visual Word Recognition: Evidence From English

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Abstract

Words are recognized most efficiently by young adults when fixated at an optimal viewing position (OVP), which for English is between a word’s beginning and middle letters. How this OVP effect changes with age is unknown but may differ for older adults due to visual declines in later life. Accordingly, a lexical decision experiment was conducted in which short (5-letter) and long (9-letter) words were fixated at various letter positions. The older adults produced slower responses. But, crucially, effects of fixation location for each word-length did not differ substantially across age groups, indicating that OVP effects are preserved in older age.

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