Brief Reports

Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 856-860

First online:

Foveal processing and word skipping during reading


An eyetracking experiment is reported examining the assumption that a word is skipped during sentence reading because parafoveal processing during preceding fixations has reached an advanced level in recognizing that word. Word n was presented with reduced contrast, with case alternation, or normally. Reingold and Rayner (2006) reported that, in comparison to the normal condition, reduced contrast increased viewing times on word n but not on word n+1, whereas case alternation increased viewing times on both words. These patterns were reflected in the fixation times of the present experiment, but a striking dissociation was observed in the skipping of word n+1: The reduced contrast of word n decreased skipping of word n+1, whereas case alternation did not. Apart from the amount of parafoveal processing, the decision to skip word n+1 is also influenced by the ease of processing word n: Difficulties in processing word n lead to a more conservative strategy in the decision to skip word n+1.