Eye Movement Essay

2099 words - 9 pages

Eye Movements and ReadingEye Movements and ReadingA Biopsychosocial Approach to Eye Movement and ReadingDavid AhongEye movements are controlled by complex motor programs that are influenced both by internal schemas and external cues and consist of fast ballistic saccadic movements, made to objects or features as a means of locating them. As the eye gathers information, it maintains its position for a duration of time, in a fixation. Together these fixations and saccadic eye movements are used to locate and gather information from objects or features of interest from the environment. Land (2009, p. 51) states that " in the time before vision had become domesticated by writing and computers, ...view middle of the document...

They suggest that these regions may serve as "anchor point" to drive the gaze shifts. In the same study they also compared subjects reading those native words to reading a set of foreign handwritten words. They reported that for native words, most of the fixations focused in the middle of the word, followed by a gaze shift to the end of the word and then to the beginning. Whereas for foreign words, the gaze shift along the words and characters appeared to be influenced by the high curvature points, ascenders and descenders of the letters (Avallone, et al., 2005).In considering the role of gaze in guiding movement, many studies report that the eyes fixate onto objects or areas that are important for an upcoming movement, just prior to the body moving in relation to it. In a block building activity, Ballard, et al. (1995) reported that fixations that were made close to the site of the activity preceded the action by a fraction of a second. Patla and Vickers (2003) in a study observing walking, observed that when subjects were walking over irregularly spaced footprints, subjects tended to fixate on footprints that were around two steps ahead of their current foot placement. Hayhoe, Shrivastava, Mruczek, and Pelz (2003), reported for subjects making sandwiches, that at the end of each object-related action, the eyes moved onto the next object about half a second before manipulation was complete, with the eyes nearly always leading the hand. Additionally, they noted that gaze often departed just at the point that the hand movement was complete, or there was no longer a need for visual guidance.The length of time the eye is maintained in any one location, its fixation duration, ranges with task and attention demands. The duration of a fixation appears to be a function of its information gathering role, increasing in time when tasks become harder and require more visual input, or when longer movements are being undertaken relating to the object or area being fixated. For a reading task, Rayner (1998) reported that the eyes fixated for around 200-250 ms on words. Rayner (1998) and Pollatsek, Rayner, and Balota (1986) have observed that as text becomes conceptually more difficult (to read), fixation duration increases. Triesch, Ballard, Hayhoe, and Sullivan (2003), observed increased fixation durations (of about 300 ms) when subjects noticed unexpected differences in a brick sorting task- where bricks were sorted into colours or sizes on a conveyor belt, but where the experimenters occasionally 'changed' a brick. Yet, unnoticed changes did not result in any change in fixation duration time. Hayhoe et al. (2003) reported a wide range of fixation durations in the sandwich making task; from under 100 ms to over 1500 ms, with some variation between subjects, however most distributions ranged between 100-200 ms within subjects. They also reported that many of the longer fixations were usually associated with a prolonged action of the hands that required...

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