Effects of individual differences in verbal skills on eye-movement patterns during sentence reading
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This study is a large-scale exploration of the influence that individual reading skills exert on eye-movement behavior in sentence reading. Seventy one non-college-bound 16-24 year-old speakers of English completed a battery of 18 verbal and cognitive skill assessments, and read a series of sentences as their eye movements were monitored. Statistical analyses were performed to establish what tests of reading abilities were predictive of eye-movement patterns across this population and how strong the effects were. We found that individual scores in rapid automatized naming and word identification tests (i) were the only participant variables with reliable predictivity throughout the time-course of reading; (ii) elicited effects that superceded in magnitude the effects of established predictors like word length or frequency; and (iii) strongly modulated the influence of word length and frequency on fixation times. We discuss implications of our findings for testing reading ability, as well as for research of eye-movements in reading.
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