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Return-sweep saccades during reading in adults and children.

Parker, A., Slattery, T. and Kirkby, J. A., 2019. Return-sweep saccades during reading in adults and children. Vision Research, 155 (February), 35 - 43.

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VR_Rev2_TJS_JAK.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.


DOI: 10.1016/j.visres.2018.12.007


During reading, eye movement patterns differ between children and adults. Children make more fixations that are longer in duration and make shorter saccades. Return-sweeps are saccadic eye movements that move a reader’s fixation to a new line of text. Return-sweeps move fixation further than intra-line saccades and often undershoot their target. This necessitates a corrective saccade to bring fixation closer to the start of the line. There have been few empirical investigations of return-sweep saccades in adults, and even fewer in children. In the present study, we examined return-sweeps of 47 adults and 48 children who read identical multiline texts. We found that children launch their return-sweeps closer to the end of the line and target a position closer to the left margin. Therefore, children fixate more extreme positions on the screen when reading for comprehension. Furthermore, children required a corrective saccade following a return-sweep more often than adults. Analysis of the duration of the fixation preceding the corrective saccade indicated that children are as efficient as adults at responding to retinal feedback following a saccade. Rather than consider differences in adult’s and children’s return-sweep behaviour an artefact of oculomotor control, we believe that these differences represent adult’s ability to utilise parafoveal processing to encode text at extreme positions.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Reading; Eye movements; Children; Return-sweep saccades; Oculomotor control
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:31639
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:14 Jan 2019 15:01
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:14


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