Synchronizing timelines: Relations between fixation durations and N400 amplitudes during sentence reading

Michael Dambacher, Reinhold Kliegl

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Abstract


We examined relations between eye movements (single-fixation durations) and RSVP-based event-related potentials (ERPs; N400s) recorded during reading the same sentences in two independent experiments. Longer fixation durations correlated with larger N400 amplitudes. Word frequency and predictability of the fixated word as well as the predictability of the upcoming word accounted for this covariance in a path-analytic model. Moreover, larger N400 amplitudes entailed longer fixation durations on the next word, a relation accounted for by word frequency. This pattern offers a neurophysiological correlate for the lag-word frequency effect on fixation durations: word processing is reliably expressed not only in fixation durations on currently fixated words, but also in those on subsequently fixated words.