Is attention confined to one word at a time? The spatial distribution of parafoveal preview benefits during reading

Chin A. Wang, Ralph Radach, A. W. Inhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Eye movements were recorded while participants read declarative sentences. Each sentence contained a critical three-word sequence with a three-letter target word (n), a spatially adjacent post-target word (n +1), and a subsequent nonadjacent post-target word (n + 2). The parafoveal previews of words n and n +2 were manipulated so that they were either fully visible or masked until they were fixated. The results revealed longer word n and word n+1 viewing durations when word n had been masked in the parafovea, and this occurred irrespective of whether the target was skipped or fixated. Furthermore, masking of word n diminished the usefulness of the preview of word n+2. These results indicate that the effect of a parafoveally available target preview was not strictly localized. Instead, it influenced target viewing and the viewing of the two subsequent words in the text. These results are difficult to reconcile with the assumption that attention is confined to one word at a time until that word is recognized and that attention is then shifted from the recognized word to the next.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1487-1494
Number of pages8
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Volume71
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language

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