Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 856–860 | Cite as

Foveal processing and word skipping during reading

Brief Reports


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.


  1. Baayen, R. H., Piepenbrock, R., & van Rijn, H. (1993). The Celex Lexical Database (Release 1) [CD-ROM]. Philadelphia: Linguistic Data Consortium, University of Pennsylvania.Google Scholar
  2. Besner, D., & Roberts, M. A. (2003). Reading nonwords aloud: Results requiring change in the dual route cascaded model. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 10, 398–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brysbaert, M., Drieghe, D., & Vitu, F. (2005). Word skipping: Implications for theories of eye movement control in reading. In G. Under wood (Ed.), Cognitive processes in eye guidance (pp. 53–77). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Drieghe, D., Rayner, K., & Pollatsek, A. (2005). Eye movements and word skipping during reading revisited. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 31, 954–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Drieghe, D., Rayner, K., & Pollatsek, A. (2008). Mislocated fixations can account for parafoveal-on-foveal effects in eye movements during reading. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 61, 1239–1249.Google Scholar
  6. Engbert, R., Nuthmann, A., Richter, E. M., & Kliegl, R. (2005). SWIFT: A dynamical model of saccade generation during reading. Psychological Review, 112, 777–813.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Henderson, J. M., & Ferreira, F. (1990). Effects of foveal processing difficulty on the perceptual span in reading: Implications for attention and eye movement control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 16, 417–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Herdman, C. M., Chernecki, D., & Norris, D. (1999). Naming cAsE aLtErNaTeD words. Memory & Cognition, 27, 254–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kliegl, R., & Engbert, R. (2005). Fixation durations before word skipping in reading. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 12, 132–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Nuthmann, A., Engbert, R., & Kliegl, R. (2005). Mislocated fixations during reading and the inverted optimal viewing position effect. Vision Research, 45, 2201–2217.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Pollatsek, A., Reichle, E. D., & Rayner, K. (2006). Tests of the E-Z Reader model: Exploring the interface between cognition and eye movement control. Cognitive Psychology, 52, 1–56.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rayner, K. (1975). The perceptual span and peripheral cues in reading. Cognitive Psychology, 7, 65–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Rayner, K. (1998). Eye movements in reading and information processing: 20 years of research. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 372–422.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Reichle, E. D., Pollatsek, A., Fisher, D. L., & Rayner, K. (1998). Toward a model of eye movement control in reading. Psychological Review, 105, 125–157.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Reingold, E. M., & Rayner, K. (2006). Examining the word identification stages hypothesized by the E-Z Reader model. Psychological Science, 17, 742–746.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. White, S. J. (2007). Foveal load and parafoveal processing: The case of word skipping. In R. P. G. van Gompel, M. H. Fischer, W. S. Murray, & R. L. Hill (Eds.), Eye movements: A window on mind and brain (pp. 409–424). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fund for Scientific ResearchFlandersBelgium

Personalised recommendations