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Optimal viewing position effect in word recognition: A challenge to current theory

Through the use of high- and low-frequency words of lengths 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 letters, it is shown that the time it takes to name a word or to decide if a stimulus is a word or a nonword depends strongly on the position in the word where the eye is fixating at the moment the word appears. There is an optimal viewing position near the middle or slightly left of the middle where the time taken is shortest. For each letter of deviation from this optimal position, about 20 msec is added to lexical decision time or naming latency. The effect is present even in short 4- and 5-letter words. The effect had theoretical and methodological consequences for psycholinguistic studies of word recognition. It may be a useful new tool with which to probe models of word recognition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)



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