The size and direction of saccadic curvatures during reading

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Eye movements during the reading of multi-line pages of texts were analyzed to determine the trajectory of reading saccades. The results of two experiments showed that the trajectory of the majority of forward-directed saccades was negatively biased, i.e., the trajectory fell below the start and end location of the saccadic movement. This is attributed to a global top-to-bottom orienting of attention. The curvature size and the proportion of negative trajectories were diminished when linguistic processing demands were high and when the beginning lines of a page were read. Longer pre-saccadic fixations also yielded smaller saccadic curvatures, and they resulted in fewer negatively curved forward-directed saccades in Experiment 1 although not in Experiment 2. These findings indicate that the top-to-bottom pull of saccadic trajectories is modulated by processing demands and processing opportunities. The results are in general agreement with a time-locked attraction-inhibition hypothesis, according to which the horizontal movement component of a saccade is initially subject to an automatic top-to-bottom orienting of attention that is subsequently inhibited. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.




Inhoff, A. W., Seymour, B. A., Schad, D., & Greenberg, S. (2010). The size and direction of saccadic curvatures during reading. Vision Research, 50(12), 1117–1130.

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