Semantic preview benefit during reading

Sven Hohenstein, Reinhold Kliegl

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doi: 10.1037/a0033670

Word features in parafoveal vision influence eye movements during reading. The question of whether readers extract semantic information from parafoveal words was studied in 3 experiments by using a gaze-contingent display change technique. Subjects read German sentences containing 1 of several preview words that were replaced by a target word during the saccade to the preview (boundary paradigm). In the 1st experiment the preview word was semantically related or unrelated to the target. Fixation durations on the target were shorter for semantically related than unrelated previews, consistent with a semantic preview benefit. In the 2nd experiment, half the sentences were presented following the rules of German spelling (i.e., previews and targets were printed with an initial capital letter), and the other half were presented completely in lowercase. A semantic preview benefit was obtained under both conditions. In the 3rd experiment, we introduced 2 further preview conditions, an identical word and a pronounceable nonword, while also manipulating the text contrast. Whereas the contrast had negligible effects, fixation durations on the target were reliably different for all 4 types of preview. Semantic preview benefits were greater for pretarget fixations closer to the boundary (large preview space) and, although not as consistently, for long pretarget fixation durations (long preview time). The results constrain theoretical proposals about eye movement control in reading. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition