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Fixation location effects on fixation durations during reading: An inverted optimal viewing position effect

Previous research has found that words are identified most quickly when the eyes are near their center (the Optimal Viewing Position [OVP] effect). The present study examined whether this phenomenon is observed during reading, as revealed by a relationship between fixation position in a word and the duration of the fixation. An analysis of 3 large existing corpora of eye movement data, 2 from adults and one from children, showed a surprising inverted OVP curve: mean fixation duration is greatest, rather than lowest, when the eyes were at the centers of words. From this phenomenon, an alternative explanation is suggested to the fixation duration trade-off effect in word refixations; the phenomenon also contradicts expectations of both oculomotor and cognitive theories of eye movement control. Attempts to test alternative explanations led to the discovery of another phenomenon, the Saccade Distance effect: mean fixation durations vary with the distance of the prior fixation from the currently-fixated word, being longer with greater distances. The durations of fixations in reading are complexly determined, with influences both from language and perceptual/oculomotor levels. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)



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