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Vision Res. 2002 May;42(10):1325-37.

Head-free reading of horizontally and vertically arranged texts.

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Department of Psychology, Seoul National University, Kwanak, Seoul 151-742, Republic of Korea.

Erratum in

  • Vision Res. 2003 Jun;43(14):1595.


Parameters of eye and head movements and their coordination in reading horizontally and vertically arranged texts were compared. Reading was faster for horizontally arranged than for vertically arranged texts by 24%, primarily due to larger gaze amplitude for horizontal reading, and thus smaller numbers of saccades and fixations. The higher velocity of gaze saccades for given amplitudes in horizontal than vertical reading also contributed to the difference in reading speed. The horizontal bias in reading is at least partly due to the oculomotor system, because the higher velocity for given amplitude of horizontal saccade was also observed in a control experiment devoid of lexical load, in which a sequentially stepping laser target was tracked. The analysis of instantaneous phase of eye and head movements with a new metric derived by the Hilbert transform suggests that eye and head coupling is stronger for vertical than for horizontal direction in both reading and laser-tracking tasks. These results, combined with previous evidence that text familiarity modulates the timing and strength of head movement commands with respect to eye movements (Vis. Res. 39 (1999) 3761), indicate that the coupling strength between eye and head movements is variable depending on the direction of gaze shift and cognitive context.

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