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Vision Res. 2004 Feb;44(3):321-38.

Eye movements in reading isolated words: evidence for strong biases towards the center of the screen.

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CNRS, Université René Descartes, Laboratoire de Psychologie Expérimentale, 71 Avenue Edouard Vaillant, 92 774 Boulogne-Billancourt Cedex, France.


Three experiments were conducted that compared the eye movement pattern to a peripheral word or letter string as a function of the position of an initial fixation stimulus relative to the center of the screen and the straight-ahead position. Results revealed a strong bias of the eye behavior towards the center of the screen, but not towards the straight-ahead position. Saccades were greater in length, and landed closer to the center of words/strings when launched from a position left of center than when launched from either center or right part of the screen. In addition, the initial saccade launch site was deviated to the right, or to the left of the initial fixation stimulus depending on where relative to the center of the screen the fixation stimulus was displayed. Data were interpreted with the assumption that saccades are programmed in a visual reference framework, with saccade amplitude being computed in relative coordinates. Further research will determine whether the observed bias generalizes to text reading.

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