Memory & Cognition

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 729–740 | Cite as

Word segmentation by alternating colors facilitates eye guidance in Chinese reading

  • Wei Zhou
  • Aiping Wang
  • Hua Shu
  • Reinhold Kliegl
  • Ming Yan


During sentence reading, low spatial frequency information afforded by spaces between words is the primary factor for eye guidance in spaced writing systems, whereas saccade generation for unspaced writing systems is less clear and under debate. In the present study, we investigated whether word-boundary information, provided by alternating colors (consistent or inconsistent with word-boundary information) influences saccade-target selection in Chinese. In Experiment 1, as compared to a baseline (i.e., uniform color) condition, word segmentation with alternating color shifted fixation location towards the center of words. In contrast, incorrect word segmentation shifted fixation location towards the beginning of words. In Experiment 2, we used a gaze-contingent paradigm to restrict the color manipulation only to the upcoming parafoveal words and replicated the results, including fixation location effects, as observed in Experiment 1. These results indicate that Chinese readers are capable of making use of parafoveal word-boundary knowledge for saccade generation, even if such information is unfamiliar to them. The present study provides novel support for the hypothesis that word segmentation is involved in the decision about where to fixate next during Chinese reading.


Chinese Word segmentation Fixation location Parafoveal Color 


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wei Zhou
    • 1
  • Aiping Wang
    • 2
  • Hua Shu
    • 3
  • Reinhold Kliegl
    • 4
  • Ming Yan
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCapital Normal UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of PsychologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and LearningBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdam-GolmGermany

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