The effects of crowding on eye movement patterns in reading

Emanuela Bricolo, Carola Salvi, Marialuisa Martelli, Lisa S. Arduino, Roberta Daini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Crowding is a phenomenon that characterizes normal periphery limiting letter identification when other letters surround the signal. We investigated the nature of the reading limitation of crowding by analyzing eye-movement patterns. The stimuli consisted of two items varying across trials for letter spacing (spaced, unspaced and increased size), lexicality (words or pseudowords), number of letters (4, 6, 8), and reading modality (oral and silent). In Experiments 1 and 2 (oral and silent reading, respectively) the results show that an increase in letter spacing induced an increase in the number of fixations and in gaze duration, but a reduction in the first fixation duration. More importantly, increasing letter size (Experiment 3) produced the same first fixation duration advantage as empty spacing, indicating that, as predicted by crowding, only center-to-center letter distance, and not spacing per se, matters. Moreover, when the letter size was enlarged the number of fixations did not increase as much as in the previous experiments, suggesting that this measure depends on visual acuity rather than on crowding. Finally, gaze duration, a measure of word recognition, did not change with the letter size enlargement. No qualitative differences were found between oral and silent reading experiments (1 and 2), indicating that the articulatory process did not influence the outcome. Finally, a facilitatory effect of lexicality was found in all conditions, indicating an interaction between perceptual and lexical processing. Overall, our results indicate that crowding influences normal word reading by means of an increase in first fixation duration, a measure of word encoding, which we interpret as a modulatory effect of attention on critical spacing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-34
Number of pages12
JournalActa Psychologica
Volume160
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 4 2015

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Crowding
Eye Movements
Reading
Visual Acuity
Letters
Spacing
Fixation
Experiment

Keywords

  • Crowding
  • Eye movements
  • Reading
  • Space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Cite this

The effects of crowding on eye movement patterns in reading. / Bricolo, Emanuela; Salvi, Carola; Martelli, Marialuisa; Arduino, Lisa S.; Daini, Roberta.

In: Acta Psychologica, Vol. 160, 04.07.2015, p. 23-34.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bricolo, Emanuela ; Salvi, Carola ; Martelli, Marialuisa ; Arduino, Lisa S. ; Daini, Roberta. / The effects of crowding on eye movement patterns in reading. In: Acta Psychologica. 2015 ; Vol. 160. pp. 23-34.
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