The role of eye movements in the missing-letter effect revisited with the rapid serial visual presentation procedure.
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When participants read a text while searching for a target letter, they are more likely to miss the target letter embedded in frequent function words than in less frequent content words. This effect is usually observed with a text displayed normally, for which it has been found that frequent function words are fixated for a smaller amount of time than less frequent content words. However, similar pattern of omissions have been observed with a rapid serial visual presentation procedure in which words appear one at a time. These parallel results would demonstrate that fixation duration per se is not the proximal cause of the missing-letter effect only if eye movements are not made during the rapid serial visual presentation procedure. Therefore, the authors performed eye monitoring during the rapid serial visual presentation procedure. Results revealed that, with a rapid serial visual presentation procedure, participants fixated function and content words for almost the entire presentation duration. It is concluded that eye movements are not the proximal cause of the missing-letter effect.
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