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Psychol Sci. 2010 Sep;21(9):1300-10. doi: 10.1177/0956797610378686. Epub 2010 Aug 2.

Eye movements during mindless reading.

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  • 1University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.


Mindless reading occurs when the eyes continue moving across the page even though the mind is thinking about something unrelated to the text. Despite how commonly it occurs, very little is known about mindless reading. The present experiment examined eye movements during mindless reading. Comparisons of fixation-duration measures collected during intervals of normal reading and intervals of mindless reading indicate that fixations during the latter were longer and less affected by lexical and linguistic variables than fixations during the former. Also, eye movements immediately preceding self-caught mind wandering were especially erratic. These results suggest that the cognitive processes that guide eye movements during normal reading are not engaged during mindless reading. We discuss the implications of these findings for theories of eye movement control in reading, for the distinction between experiential awareness and meta-awareness, and for reading comprehension.

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