Parafoveal-on-foveal interactions in word recognition

Alan Kennedy, Joel Pynte, Stephanie Ducrot

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    82 Citations (Scopus)


    An experiment is reported in which participants read sequences of five words, looking for items describing articles of clothing. The third and fourth words in critical sequences were defined as “foveal” and “parafoveal” words, respectively. The length and frequency of foveal words and the length, frequency, and initial-letter constraint of parafoveal words were manipulated. Gaze and refixation rate on the foveal word were measured as a function of properties of the parafoveal word. The results show that measured gaze on a given foveal word is systematically modulated by properties of an unfixated parafoveal word. It is suggested that apparent inconsistencies in previous studies of parafoveal-on-foveal effects relate to a failure to control for foveal word length and hence the visibility of parafoveal words. A serial-sequential attention-switching model of eye movement control cannot account for the pattern of obtained effects. The data are also incompatible with various forms of parallel-processing model. They are best accounted for by postulating a process-monitoring mechanism, sensitive to the simultaneous rate of acquisition of information from foveal and parafoveal sources.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1307-1337
    Number of pages31
    JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. A, Human Experimental Psychology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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