A cross-linguistic study of spatial parameters of eye-movement control during reading.
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Current theories of oculomotor control in reading differ in their accounts of saccadic targeting. Some argue that targets for saccades are solely selected on the basis of the rapidly changing sensory input, whereas others additionally allow for the reader's experiential biases to modulate saccade lengths. We investigated this debate using cross-linguistic data on text reading in 12 alphabetic languages from the Multilingual Eye-Movement Corpus (MECO) database. These languages vary widely in their word length distributions, suggesting that expected word lengths and corresponding biases toward optimal saccade lengths may also vary across readers of these languages. Regression analyses confirmed that readers of languages with longer words (e.g., Finnish) rather than shorter words (e.g., Hebrew) landed further into the word, even when sensory aspects relevant for saccade planning (e.g., word lengths) were controlled for. In the prevalent saccade type, a one-letter difference in mean word length between languages came with one-quarter-letter of a difference in initial landing position and saccade length, and a decrease in 1.5% in refixation probability. Interpreted in the Bayesian framework, the findings highlight the relevance of global language-wide settings for accounts of spatial oculomotor control and lead to testable predictions for further cross-linguistic research. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
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