Word properties of a fixated region affect outgoing saccade length in Chinese reading

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Abstract

Highlights

▸ In two experiments, we investigated how forward saccades are targeted in Chinese reading. ▸ We showed that the easier the processing of the fixated word, the longer the outgoing saccade. ▸ We propose a processing-based strategy for saccade target selection in Chinese reading.

In two experiments, we investigated how forward saccades are targeted in Chinese reading. In Experiment 1, the critical region was a 4-character string which was either a word (one-word condition) or two 2-character word phrases (two-word condition). In Experiment 2, the critical region was either a high frequency word or a low frequency word. The outgoing saccade length from the last fixation on the critical region was longer in the one-word condition than the two-word condition in Experiment 1 and was longer in the high frequency condition than in the low frequency condition in Experiment 2. These results indicate that the properties of words in a fixated region affect the length of the outgoing saccade. We propose a processing-based strategy for saccade target selection in Chinese reading in which readers estimate how many characters they can process on each fixation, and then program their next saccade so that the eyes fixate somewhere beyond them. As a consequence, the easier the processing of the fixated region is, the longer the outgoing saccade is.

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