The role of verbal memory in regressions during reading is modulated by the target word’s recency in memory
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During reading, a number of eye movements are made backward, on words that have already been read. Recent evidence suggests that such eye movements, called regressions, are guided by memory. Several studies point to the role of spatial memory, but evidence for the role of verbal memory is more limited. In the present study, we examined the factors that modulate the role of verbal memory in regressions. Participants were required to make regressions on target words located in sentences displayed on one or two lines. Verbal interference was shown to affect regressions, but only when participants executed a regression on a word located in the first part of the sentence, irrespective of the number of lines on which the sentence was displayed. Experiments 2 and 3 showed that the effect of verbal interference on words located in the first part of the sentence disappeared when participants initiated the regression from the middle of the sentence. Our results suggest that verbal memory is recruited to guide regressions, but only for words read a longer time ago.
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