Low-level predictive inference in reading: The influence of transitional probabilities on eye movements

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Abstract

We report the results of an investigation into the ability of transitional probability (word-to-word contingency statistics) to account for reading behaviour. Using a corpus of eye movements recorded during the reading of newspaper text, we demonstrate both the forward [P(n|n-1)] and backward [P(n|n+1)] transitional probability measures to be predictive of first fixation and gaze durations: the higher the transitional probability, the shorter the fixation time. Initial fixation position was also affected by the forward measure; we observed a small rightward shift for words that were highly predictable from the preceding word. Although transitional probability is sensitive to word class, with function words being generally more predictable from their context than content words, the measures accounted equally well for the data for both classes. © 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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McDonald, S. A., & Shillcock, R. C. (2003). Low-level predictive inference in reading: The influence of transitional probabilities on eye movements. In Vision Research (Vol. 43, pp. 1735–1751). Elsevier Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0042-6989(03)00237-2

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